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AESCH. Suppl. 24 5. 

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at the University Press 



aon&on: FETTER LANE, E.G. 





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AS I had long been dissatisfied with the theory of the 
-*- Origin of Tragedy universally accepted, I have tried 
to obtain the true solution of the problem by approaching it 
from the anthropological standpoint. 

The general theory here advanced that Tragedy originated 
in the worship of the dead was first put forward in a lecture 
before the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in 
1904, summaries of which were printed in the Proceedings of 
that Society and in the Athenaeum (1904, p. 660). It also 
appeared in a fuller form in the Quarterly Review (Oct. 1908). 
The first section of Chapter I. in the present work is an 
expansion of that article, and for permission to use this I have 
to thank Mr John Murray and Mr G. W. Prothero. The section 
on the Eumenides in Chapter IV. was published in the Classical 
Review (1907, pp. 163-8), whilst that on the Supplices of 
Aeschylus was printed in the Cambridge Greek Praelections 
(1906), but each of these has been altered in various details. 
The subject-matter of the whole work formed the material for 
a course of lectures which I delivered in my capacity as 
Brereton Reader in Classics in the Lent Term, 1908. 

It only remains for me to offer my best thanks to those 
who have aided me in various ways. I am indebted to my 
friends Dr and Mrs Seligmann for permission to print their 
account of a Vedda dramatic performance and for the photograph 
reproduced in Fig. 12 (p. 103); to Mr A. J. B. Wace, M.A., 
Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, for his account of the 
Carnival Play in Northern Greece; to Mr W. Aldis Wright, 


D.C.L., LL.D., Litt.D., Vice-Master of Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge, to Mr John Harrower, M.A., LL.D., Professor of Greek 
in the University of Aberdeen, to Mr Harold Littledale, M.A., 
Litt.D., Professor of English Literature in University College, 
Cardiff, and to Mr H. M. Chadwick, M.A., Fellow of Clare 
College, Cambridge, for useful references; to Mr A. B. Cook, 
M.A., Reader in Classical Archaeology, and Fellow of Queens' 
College, Cambridge, for the photograph from which Fig. 9 is 
reproduced ; to the Council of the Society for the Promotion 
of Hellenic Studies and to Mr R. M. Dawkins, M.A., Fellow of 
Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Director of the British 
School at Athens, for permission to use the illustrations shown 
in my Figs. 7 and 8; to Mr J. E. Sandys, Litt.D., F.B.A., 
Public Orator in the University of Cambridge, for sanctioning 
the use of two blocks from his Sacchae for my Figs. 10 and 13, 
and to Miss J. E. Harrison for a similar sanction of the use of 
a block from her Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion 
for my Fig. 5. 




August 6th, 1910. 




The old theory the claim of the Dorians the dialect of the 
Chorus the Dithyramb Lasus of Hermione the worship of 
Dionysus the modern Carnival Play in Thrace the Epiphany 
Carnival in Thessaly Dionysus in Greece Mimetic Dances 
in Greece the cult of Adrastus at Sicyoii and the worship of 
the Dead the Thymele the introduction of the cult of 
Dionysus into Greece the Satyric Drama .... 1 


Introductory, Epigenes of Sicyon Thespis his grand step 
Mysteries and Miracles the immediate Precursors of Aeschy- 
lus Pratinas Choerilus Phrynichus the origin of the terms /' 
Tragoedia and Tragic 'Goat-singers' the Satyrs not Goatuien 
Dr Farnell's hypothesis the Bull the Goat Goatskins 
ancient dress Aegis of Zeus and Athena Conclusion . . 56 


Hindu drama the Ramayana Lama plays in Tibet and Mongolia 
Malay dramas the dramatic performances of the Veddas 
of Ceylon 94 



Aeschylus Tombs in Greek Tragedies Persae Choephori 
Supplices Sophocles Ajax A ntigone Oedipus Colone us 
Euripides Helena Hecuba the Threnos and the Kommos , 
Tragedies especially suited for the festivals of Heroes Hippo- 
lytus and Rhesus Ghosts Darius Clytemnestra Poly dorus 



Achilles The Appeasing of the Ghost Libations and Sacri- 
fices Human Victims Iphigenia in Tauris Heracleidae 
Iphigenia at Aulis the Hecuba Human sacrifices contem- 
porary in Greece in Arcadia Messenia and at Athens 
herself Thermistocles sacrifices Persian youths the dream of 
Pelopidas Zeus worship and its influence in stopping human 
sacrifice Graves as Sanctuaries the Helena the Suppliants 
of Aeschylus the JEumenides, etc. Courts for trial of Blood- 
shed at Athens . 109 


Introduction. Aeschylus uses Tragedy for discussion of great social 
and religious problems the Suppliants and the Eumenides 
Descent through Women Exogamy transition to Male suc- 
cession and Endogamy Prometheus Vinctus the relation of 
Man to God . . 187 

INDEX 220 



1. Thracian coin showing Ox-cart 10 

2. Silenus with a Woman 11 

3. Silenus carrying off a Woman 11 

4. Sileni or Centauri carrying off Women 11 

5. Dionysus and his Satyrs (from the Wurzburg cylix) ... 12 

6. Dionysus and Ariadne between a Satyr and a Bacchant . . 13 

7. Modern Thracian Dionysiac Play 21 

8. Skyros Masquer ad er 23 

9. Theban Scyphos showing a Bema or Thymele .... 45 

10. Masks of Dionysus, Satyr and Silenus 89 

11. Archaic Greek Scarab 99 

12. A Vedda Drama: 'How Kande Yaka killed the Deer' . . .103 

13. Masks of Tragedy and Comedy . 113 

14. Orestes and Electra at the tomb of Agamemnon .... 121 

15. Prometheus tortured by the Eagle 215 


01 8' fir (I fl(rdyayov icXura 8d>fiara, TOV p.fv fT 
Tprjrois ev Xe^e'etrcri dfcrav, irapa 8' dcrav doi8ovs 
dpqvtov fdpxovs, 01 T (TTOv6f<T(rav dot8r)v 
01 fj.ev 8r) dprjvtov, firl 8f (TTfvd^ovro yvvaiKfs, 
rrjffiv 8' *A.v8pofjid)(T) \fVKa>\(vos yp\ ( yooto, 
"EKTOpos dv8po<j)6voio Kaprj /iera xfp<rii> t^ovtra. 

II. XXIV, 719-24. 

No branch of Literature and Art has been more popular 
amongst civilised and semi-civilised peoples than the Drama, 
nor has any exercised a more powerful influence on national 
thought and sentiment, especially that side of it known as 
Tragedy. It is therefore not surprising that no department 
of Literature or Art has had more attraction for the historian 
and the critic from ancient times down to our own day. But 
innumerable as have been the writers on this theme, they have 
without exception confined their attention to the rise of the 
Greek drama, to its imitation in Rome, to the Mysteries and 
Miracles of medieval Christianity, to the revival of the classical 
form, and to its splendid development in the plays of Marlowe, 
Shakespeare, Calderon, Corneille, and Racine. Moreover all 
writers instead of seeking for the origin of the Drama by a 
rigid application of the historical and comparative methods 
have approached its study from the a priori standpoint of pure 
Aesthetics. This was but natural, as students had their eyes 
fixed almost exclusively on the Golden Age of the Attic drama, 
and they regarded the creations of the tragic poets as but one 
phase of that marvellous outburst of Art which has marked out 
from all others the age of Pericles. Even now all study of Art 
R T. 1 


is almost invariably based on a priori assumptions, no regard 
being taken of the Anthropological method, and it could hardly 
have been expected that writers on the drama would have 
followed other lines. 

No matter how widely writers on Greek Tragedy may differ 
from each other in details, they are all agreed that although 
its beginnings are shrouded in the mists of antiquity, certain 
main facts respecting its early stages are firmly established: 
(1) That it was the invention of the Dorians in certain districts 
of Peloponnesus, (2) that it arose wholly out of the worship of 
Dionysus, (3) that the Satyric Drama likewise grew up in the 
same Dorian States out of rustic and jovial dithyrambs common 
among the lower classes in the same districts as those in which 
Tragedy is supposed to have had its birth, (4) that the Satyric 
Drama was a kind of comic relief to the tragedy or tragedies 
to which it was an adjunct and of which in early times it seems 
to have been the inseparable concomitant, (5) that the Thyinele 
was from the first the altar of Dionysus, and (6) that Thespis 
was the first to establish Tragedy on a proper basis, some holding 
that his grand step consisted merely in separating the leader 
from the rest of the Chorus and making him interrupt the 
choral parts with some sort of Epic recitation, whilst others 
think that he was the first to apply to moral purposes the 
sufferings, often undeserved, of heroes. A closer examination 
of the available data, scanty as they are, may perhaps show 
that most of these common beliefs have no foundation in fact, 
and that it may be necessary to remodel completely our views 
concerning the first beginnings and development of the Tragic 


It has been universally assumed that the Dorians were the 
inventors of Tragedy on the grounds that (1) Aristotle said so, 
and (2) that the Chorus in the Attic tragedies are all in the 
Doric dialect. But Aristotle makes no such statement in the 
Poetics^, for he merely remarks that some of the Dorians lay 
claim to both Tragedy and Comedy on etymological grounds, 

1 in, 4. 


maintaining that the word drama is Doric because they (the 
Dorians) use &pdv where the Athenians say irpdrrew, though he 
himself in no wise endorses their pretension. The Dorians' 
argument has just as little value and has been just as mis- 
leading as many other arguments both ancient and modern 
which, like it, are based solely on etymology. 

Dialect of the Chorus. The second argument on which 
scholars rely has no better foundation in fact. It has been 
assumed that certain linguistic forms found in the choruses 
of the Attic tragedies are in the Doric dialect and that to it 
likewise belong certain forms used also in the dialogue in which 
o appears instead of ij l . The present writer has long since 

1 e.g. %KO.TI, Sapov, 'Affdva, \oxayfa, Kvvay6s, iroSayos, 6irad6s. Brugmann 
[Gmndriss, Band i (2nd ed.) pp. 166-7] says that the change from 5 into 17 
had already taken place in what he calls the Attic-Ionic period (in der Zeit der 
lon.-Att. Urgenieinschaft). He holds that in such words as x^P a J Trpdrru, 
Kapdia, idcro/juit, yeved, fftKva, = Ionic X C V'7 irpflffffu, Kpadii), i^<, yfve-ff, ffiKvij, etc., 
there has been a change back from rj to a. But he gives no evidence and only 
assumes that Attic had once gone as far as Ionic in modifying a into >).- Nor 
does he give any proof that x^pn bad changed back into x<fy><*- He assumes 
that p, i, e, and v, had the power of changing ij back into a, but why should not 
these sounds have had the power of keeping original a from being changed into 
77? So far from his being able to show any tendency in Attic for ij to revert 
to o, he himself points out that there were many exceptions " durch Neubildung." 
Thus in the fourth cent. B.C. vytTJ, tvStrj, ev<f>vrj supplanted vyid, evded, fv<f>va, etc. 
The only instance to the contrary cited by Brugmann is vipdvai instead of 
v<t>rjvai. But as the only instance of this aorist given by Veitch (Greek Verbs) is 
in Anthol. vi, 265, an epigram to Laciuian Hera wholly composed in Doric, the 
form can hardly be used to prove that there was at any time a tendency in 
Attic to replace t\ by o. Brugmann's contention that Attic went the whole way 
with Ionic and then turned back is just as unreasonable as if any one were to 
maintain that, because certain phonetic tendencies especially marked in the 
dialect of the Americans of New England are also found in a less degree in the 
dialect of Lincolnshire in England, whence many of the first settlers in New 
England came, therefore the dialect of Lincolnshire had once had all the 
phonetic peculiarities of the modern Yankees, but that it had at a later 
period turned back. The obvious explanation that certain tendencies of the 
Lincolnshire dialect brought by the settlers to America had there later on 
further developed under new conditions, whilst the Lincolnshire did not advance 
so quickly or so far applies equally well to the relation between Attic and 
Ionic. Certain tendencies already existing before the emigrants from Attica 
settled in Ionia were fully developed by the latter, whilst their brethren who 
had remained in Greece did not advance at all so far or so quickly. For the 
full discussion cf. my Early Age of Greece, vol. i, pp. 668-9. 



shown 1 that certain other forms found in Attic tragedy and 
supposed to have been borrowed from the Ionic dialect, e.g. 
Third Plurals in -oiaro, -aiaro, are really good old Attic; he 
has also pointed out 2 that as no other characteristic of the 
Doric dialect except a is found either in the Choruses or in 
the dialogues of Tragedy, these forms are in no wise Doric, 
but merely old Attic forms which naturally survived in sacred 
hymns and ancient ballads, ever the last refuge of archaic 
words and forms. It is moreover difficult to believe that the 
Athenians would have borrowed the diction of their sacred 
songs from the hated Dorians, whom they would not permit 
even to enter their sanctuaries and share with them the worship 
of their gods, no exception being made even in the case of 
royalty itself. Thus when the Spartans occupied Athens in 
B.C. 509, and Cleomenes their king sought to enter the temple 
of Athena, the priestess withstood him on the ground that it 
was not lawful for Dorians to do so 3 . 

The Dithyramb. Aristotle states 4 that "Tragedy at first 
was mere improvisation like Comedy: the one originated with 
the leaders of the dithyramb, the other with those of the phallic 
songs which are still in use in many of our cities. It was not 
till late that the short plot was discarded for one of greater 
compass and the grotesque diction of the earlier Satyric for the 
stately manner of Tragedy." From this passage the exponents 
of the orthodox view have universally assumed that the 
Dithyramb was Doric in origin. Yet we have explicit historical 
information to the contrary. Herodotus 5 tells us that Arion 
the famous harper "was the first of all men of whom we have 
any knowledge to compose a dithyramb, to give it that name, 
and to teach it to a chorus," whilst we know from the same 

1 Early Age of Greece, voL i, pp. 670-1 ; Transactions of Cambridge 
Philological Society, vol. n (1881-2), pp. 186-7. 
- Early Age of Greece, vol. i, p. 670. 

3 Herod, v, 72 : i) dt Iptltj e^avaaraffa K TOV Opbvov vplv TJ ras dvpas avrbv 
d/jLfi\f/ai elire- T O $five Awtlftw/ltac, ird\i.v x^P t A"?5e tffidt es rb Ipbv ob yap 
Offurbv Awpteufft irapttvat evOavra. 

4 Poetics, 4 : diro rwv t%ap\bvruv rbv di&vpa.p.^oi' KT\. 

5 I, 23: 'Apiova. rbv MrjOvfjuiatov . . .t&vra Kt6a.p(f)dov rCiv T&T( iovruv ovdfvbs 
Svurepov, KO.I didi' Trpwrov dvdpwTrwv TWV f]fj.eis tdfiev, iroi^ffavra. re Kai 

Kai didd^avra iv KopivBip. 


passage that Arion was a native of Methymna in Lesbos. But 
although Herodotus is probably right in ascribing to Arion the 
full development into a distinct artistic form, the name had 
long before been in use for some ruder form of song, since it is 
mentioned by Archilochus 1 of Paros, who flourished about 
B.C. 670, and therefore preceded Arion by more than half a 
century. Thus neither the fully developed dithyramb nor even 
its ruder form can be ascribed to the Dorians, but must be 
regarded as the invention of the older populaiipn^ o^Greece 
to which Arion and Archilochus belonged. Arion taught his 
dithyramb to a chorus of fifty at Corinth in the reign of 
Periander (B.C. 625 585). According to Suidas'- he introduced 
Satyrs speaking in metre and the same writer describes him 
as the "inventor of the tragic style 8 ." It is quite clear from 
the language of Aristotle that the beginnings of the dithyramb 
already existed in rude improvisations, or scarcely less rude 
hymns, long before Arion had given to these untutored 
utterances of primitive men artistic form and the name of 

It must also at once be pointed out that though Aristotle 
implies a close connection between the " earlier satyric " and the 
dithyramb, neither he nor Herodotus in his account of the 
invention of the dithyramb by Arion, state that the newly 
invented or rather improved form of literature was confined 
solely to the ritual of Dionysus. But to Aristotle's statement 
we shall presently return. True, Pindar 4 in a famous passage 
when alluding to the production of Arion's dithyramb at Corinth, 
exclaims: "Whence were revealed the new charms of Dionysus, 
with the accompaniment of the ox-driving dithyramb? Who 
made new means of guidance in the harness of steeds, or set 
the twin king of birds on the temples of the gods?" Yet 
we are not justified in inferring from this passage that the 
dithyramb was confined to the worship of the Thracian god. 
On the contrary we have every reason for believing that, certainly 

1 Fragm. 79 : o>J A(c<w'<rot' avaicTos AcaXoi" efdpfai ne\os 

ol5a diOvpanfiov, olvif ffvyKfpavvtaOfis <j>p^vas. 
s.v. Arion : artipovs eifffveyKelv tnnerpa. Xtyovras. 

3 rpayiKOv rpoirov ei'pmjs. 

4 Ol. xni, 18-9 : TO.I Aiuvi'ffov roOev (^(pavev ffbv j3oi)\dT$ xd-P LTf * SiOvpanfiifj ; 


in Pindar's own time, and probably from its first rude beginnings, 
the dithyramb was used in commemoration of heroes. Thus 
his own contemporary and great rival, Simonides 1 of Ceos 
(B.C. 556 467), a composer of many dithyrambs, wrote one called 
Memnon,in praise of that ill-fated hero. The epithet "ox-driving" 
used by Pindar differentiates from others the peculiar character 
of the dithyramb sung in honour of Dionysus. As it has been 
commonly held that Tragedy got its name from the he-goat 
(rpayosi), said to have been the prize in such competitions, 
so the epithet "ox-driving" has been supposed to mean that 
in the case of dithyrambic contests the prize was an ox. In 
later times, at Athens at least, though we have no evidence 
that Attic practice means general use in Greece, in musical 
contests an ox was the first prize, an amphoreus the second, 
and a he-goat the third 2 . These contests, like others in the 
great festivals of Greece, may have undergone modifications 
in later times. 

But the true explanation may rather be found in a 
passage of Pausanias 3 . Speaking of the Cynaetheans, an 
Arcadian community, he says: "What is most worthy of note 
is that there is a sanctuary of Dionysus here, and that they 
hold a festival in winter, at which men, their bodies greased 
with oil, pick out a bull from a herd (whichever bull the god 
puts it into their head to take), lift it up, and carry it to the 
sanctuary. Such is their mode of sacrifice." It would thus 
seem not unlikely that in Dionysiac ritual the bull to be 
sacrificed was driven or dragged along by the chorus of 

But although the dithyramb may have thus been used in 
the worship of Dionysus, it does not at all follow that it was 
confined to his ritual. From the statement of Aristotle that it 
was not till late that the grotesque diction of the earlier Satyric 
was discarded for the stately manner of Tragedy it might at 
first sight be maintained that Tragedy had arisen solely out of 

1 Strabo, 619, 43 (Didot) : Ta<p7Jvai 8t \4ytrai 'M.^fj.vuv irepl HdXrov TTJS 2i;piaj 
irapa EaSdv Trora/j.6v, wj ftprjKe Zt/uwpiSijs tv M^/tvon 5i#upd/ot/3<f> r&v ATjXta/ctDj'. 

2 Schol. Plato, Rep., 394 c: rCiv 5e iroiyruv rtf ntv irpwrif) /Sous Zira.6\ov 
yv, rtf dt devrtpy dfj.<f>opfi/s, T$ 5 rpiry rpdyos, 8v rpvyl Kr^pifffjAvov dirfiyov. 

* vn, 19, 1 (Frazer's trans.). 


the cult of Dionysus and his Satyrs. But a fuller statement in 
the same famous passage shows clearly that he regarded Tragedy 
as the outcome of the Epic : " As in the serious style Homer is 
pre-eminent among poets, for he alone combined dramatic form 
with excellence of imitation, so too he first laid down the main 
lines of Comedy by dramatising the ludicrous instead of writing 
personal satire. His Margites bears the same relation to 
Comedy that the Iliad and the Odyssey bear to Tragedy. But 
when Tragedy and Comedy came to light the two classes of 
poets still followed their natural bent : the lampooners became 
writers of Comedy, and the Epic poets were succeeded by 
tragedians, since the drama was a larger and higher form of 
art 1 ." 

As the Epic poets sung of the exploits and sorrows of heroes 
and not merely of the adventures or sufferings of Dionysus, 
Aristotle cannot have regarded the dithyrambs, out of which he 
says Tragedy arose, as restricted to the worship of the Thracian 
god. I Now as he holds the tragedians to have been the 
successors of the Epic poets who followed the serious style, and / 
certainly did not use " the grotesque Satyric diction," the tragic 
writers must from the first have used the serious diction of the 
Epic and not the grotesque language of the Satyric drama. 

That Aristotle is partly right in holding Tragedy to be the 
lineal descendant of the Epic is confirmed by a fact familiar to all 
scholars. The speeches of messengers in tragedies come nearest 
to Epic narrative, and in these it is not uncommon to find forms 
of verbs used without the augment, just as in the epic poems. 
On the other hand the Choral odes did not arise out of the 
Epic, for their origin was really in that Lyric poetry, which, 
though hitherto regarded as a later stage in literary develop- 
ment than the Epic, must really be held prior. Joy and 
exultation after victory in battle or success in the chase, the 
outpourings of the anguished heart, and the transports of the 
lover, are, and have ever been, not expressed in set heroic 
measure, but in lyrical outbursts. Such are the rude songs out 
of which arose the ancient Irish epics, and such also are those 
embedded in the Icelandic Sagas. So too when Achilles sang 

1 Poet. 4 (Butcher's trans.). 


to his harp the "glories of heroes 1 ," he was not chaunting heroic 
lays, like a rhapsodist, but rather singing rude songs about the 
deeds of doughty men, and of such the Odes of Pindar are the 
lineal descendants. These wild lyric utterances not only pre- 
ceded, but were concurrent with and formed the material for 
the fully developed Epic with its uniform hexameter metre, and 
though hushed for a season, in the fullness of time their 
stirring and sweet strains burst forth once more, this time from 
the lips of Tyrtaeus, Sappho and Alcaeus. 

It must be confessed that Aristotle's account of the origin 
of Tragedy is confused and apparently self-contradictory. The 
fact is that from his standpoint he was chiefly interested in 
the fully developed Tragedy as a great form of art, and as we 
shall see later (p. 57), he cared little about its first beginnings. 
, Finally it may be pointed out that as Tragedy in the main 
) arose from the Epic, and as the great epics were certainly not 
i> composed in the Doric dialect, we have thus a further reason for 
J rejecting the claim of the Dorians. 

Lasus. The establishment at Athens of contests in which 
dithyrambs were performed by Cyclic choruses is ascribed to 
Lasus, son of Charbinus, born about B.C. 548 at Hermione, 
a town of Argolis. This place was not settled by the Dorians 
but, as we are expressly told by Herodotus 2 , its inhabitants were 
Dryopians, one of the aboriginal Pelasgian tribes of Greece. It 
is therefore very unlikely that Lasus was a Dorian. He settled at 
Athens and lived there under the Pisistratidae and probably under 
Pisistratus himself. Herodotus 3 relates how he had detected and 
exposed Onomacritus, the renowned oracle-monger and editor of 
Musaeus, for having made an interpolation in an oracle of that 
poet respecting certain islands off Lemnos. We know from 
Aelian 4 that Lasus composed dithyrambs, and from Athenaeus 5 
that he wrote a hymn, in which the letter Sigma did not occur, 
in honour of the Demeter of his native place Hermione and that 
he was famous for playing on words. But his claim to fame rests 

1 II. ix, 186. 2 vin, 43. 3 vii, 6. 

4 Nat. An. vm, 47 : ev yow TO?J Ado-ou \eyofj.tvois SiOvpa/j-fiois KT\. 
6 455 c and d : CJUPOS &<ny/j.6s effnv (citing a treatise on Music by Heraclides 
Ponticus) ; 338 b. Hesychius refers to his word-plays (Xoo-jV/xara) s.v. 


chiefly on his development of the dithyramb 1 , the part that he 
took in the establishment of musical contests at Athens, and 
the remarkable influence that he exercised upon the history 
of Greek music. 

According to Suidas 2 he wrote a work on Music, whilst 
we learn from Plutarch 3 that he modified greatly the music 
of the day by adapting the rhythms to the dithyrambic style,' 
by making more use of the varied notes of the flute, and by 
a greater range of sounds. The date of the first musical 
contest at Athens is placed by the Parian Chronicle in 01. 68, 1 
(B.C. 508). The prize however did not fall to Lasus himself, 
but to one Hypodicus of Chalcis. Aristophanes 4 refers to a 
contest between Lasus and Simonides in which the former again 
suffered defeat. We have no reason for supposing that Lasus 
in his dithyrambs any more than his rival restricted himself to 
purely Dionysiac themes, and like the latter he may well have 
sung the sorrows of heroes. It is certain at least that Cyclic 
choruses were_ not confined to the worship of Dionysus, for a 
Cyclic chorus danced round the altar of the Twelve gods at 
Athens on the occasion of the Great Dionysia. We may there- 
fore conclude that the dithyramb was not the invention of the 
Dorians, and that at no time was it confined solely to the cult 
of the Thracian god. 

The claims of the Dorians to the invention of Tragedy may 
therefore be safely rejected, since (1) Aristotle certainly does 
not endorse their pretensions; (2) the supposed Doric forms 
in Tragedy are simply old Attic; and (3) neither Arion nor 
Archilochus were Dorians. 

1 Schol., Ar. Av. 1403 : rbv KvK\io8idd<rKa\oi> : 'A.i>ri rov 

ftprjrai yap STI tyKfaXta SiSdffKovffiv. ' Avriirarpos Sf KO.I Ei/0poVtos fv rots 
VTro/jLV/i/j-aai (paffl TOVS KVK\iovs xopovs ffrijerai irpwrov \curov rbv 'Epniovta, oi 8e 
apxaiorepoi. 'E\Xew/cos /cat At/cat'apxos, 'Apiova rbv 'M.^ffv^vaiov, AiKaiapxos i*ev iv 
rf iTfpi AtoMWUUcfiii dyuvwv, 'EXXcwKos 8e ev rots K/Kwaijcots. 

2 s.v. Lasus : irpuros Se euros irepl /UOI/CTIKI}* \6yov l-ypai/'e, KO.I di0vpa/j./3oi> et's 
dywva eiariyaye, xai TOI)S fpiffriKovs el<rr]yri(ra.TO \6yovs. 

3 Plut. de musica, 29 : ei'j rr\v SiOvpafj.^iK-fji' dywyrjv /jLeraffrriffas TOI>S pv6/j.oi>s 
KO.I TTJ rCiv av\>v iro\v<f(avlq. KaraKO\ov6rjffa^ TrXeloffi re <j>66yyois KO.I 

d/j.evos els /j.erdOea'i.v TTJV irpo'Lnrdpxovffai' riyaye fj.ovffiKT?iv. 

4 Vesp. 1410. 



Let us next examine the belief that Tragedy arose solely 
from the worship of Dionysus. Aristotle himself has shown 
once for all that the Drama like every other form of Art springs 
from that love of imitation, which man possesses in a far higher 
degree than any other animal, and from the love of rhythm 
likewise implanted in him. But he assumed, on insufficient 
grounds as we have just seen, that " the stately manner of 
Tragedy " arose out of " the grotesque diction of the earlier 
Satyric." If it can be shown that in districts of Greece, where 

mimetic dances were performed long 
before the Dorian invasion or the 
introduction of the worship of 
Dionysus into that country, there 
were dramatic performances and 
solemn festivals held not in honour 
of the Thracian wine-god but of 
very different personages, we shall 

FiG.l. Thracian coin showing be forced to the conclusion that 

Ox-cart. Greek Tragedy did not arise from 

the cult of Dionysus and his Satyrs. 

Let us first trace briefly the origin of that worship and its 
spread in Greece. Homer indeed knows of Dionysus, but only as 
a Thracian deity. Lycurgus, an ancient Thracian chief, scourged 
Dionysus and his attendant women so severely with his ox-whip 
that the god of wine had to take to water and seek an asylum 
with Thetis in the depths of the sea 1 . The Birth-story of 
Dionysus at Thebes is also alluded to in the Iliad*, whilst we 
are told in the Odyssey 3 that Artemis slew Ariadne in Naxos 
"on the witness of Dionysus." Herodotus states that the three 
chief Thracian divinities were Ares, Dionysus, and Artemis 
(i.e. Bendis). 

The oldest and most famous seat of the cult of Dionysus 
was not amongst the red-haired Thracians of the Danubian 
region, such as the Getae, who did not even worship him, but 
had separate divinities of their own 4 . His home was amongst 

1 II. vx, 132 sqq. n - xiv, 325. 3 Od. xi, 325. 4 Herod, iv, 94-6. 



the aboriginal dark-haired Thracians of the Pangaean range. 
On one of the loftiest of its peaks lay his great ancient oracle. 
The tribe of the Satrae dwelt around and the oracle was in 
charge of the Satrian clan of the Bessi 1 . / 

The Thracians of this region were closely akin to the 

FIG 2. Silenus with a woman : LETE 2 . FIG. 3. Silenus carrying off a woman: LETE. 

indigenous population of Greece. They were no rude savages, 
as generally believed, for they were skilled in metal-work, 
striking coins of singular beauty and originality of types (Fig. 1) 
from the early part of the sixth century B.C. No less skilful 
were they in music and literature than in the material arts. 
From them had come Thamyris, and Orpheus and Linus, the 

FIG. 4. Sileni or Centaurs carr> ing off women : OBUESCII. 

master of Orpheus : from thence too had sprung Eumolpus who 
established the Mysteries at Eleusis. Almost all the aboriginal 
Thracian tribes had been conquered by the fair-haired race 
from the Danube and beyond, or else they had had to seek 
new homes in Asia, as was the case with the Dardanians, 
Phrygians and Mysians. But Herodotus 3 tells us that the 
mountaineers of Pangaeum, who in his own day defied the 

1 Herod, vn, 111. 

2 Figs. 2 and 3 are from coins in the Leake Collection, Fitzwilliam Museum, 
Cambridge. 3 Herod, vn, 111. 


arms of Xerxes, had at no time been conquered but had pre- 
served their liberty secure in their snow-clad mountain fastnesses. 
There can therefore be no reasonable doubt that in the oracle 
of Dionysus served by the Bessi we have an original cult of 
these indigenous Thracians. These tribes differed in many 
respects from the so-called Thracians, such as the Getae, who 
were really Celts. The former invariably tattooed themselves 
and traced descent through women, differing in these particulars 
as well as in others from their Celtic neighbours and oppressors, 
whilst in their morals they were exceedingly lax, the girls up 
to marriage being allowed complete licence. This circumstance 
probably gave rise to a general belief amongst the neighbours 
of the Satrae that they were addicted to all sorts of wild 

FIG. 5. Dionysus and his Satyrs (from the Wiirzburg cylix). 

orgiastic rites, as is evidenced by the coins of that region on which 

Satyrs or Sileni are seen carrying off women (Figs. 2, 3 and 4). 

Colonel Leake long ago suggested that from the name of the great 

tribe of the Satrae, amongst whom was the chief sanctuary of 

Dionysus, arose the name of the Satyri, the constant attendants 

of Dionysus in his wild rout (Fig. 5). This explanation seems 

highly probable. Aristotle 1 has told us that just as we make our 

gods in our own likeness, so do we also represent their lives as 

J like our own. Dionysus accordingly reflected the life of his own 

u worshippers. The Satyrs are simply his own Satrian tribesmen, 

I and the Bacchants (Fig. 6) are merely the young women of 

[ the tribe allowed to range at will. 

1 Pol. I, 7 : wcrwep $t KCLI TO. etSi) eavTOis d.<j>o/J.oiov<riv oi avOpwiroi, oCrw /coi roi'j 
uv df&v. 








It will be convenient at this point to treat at greater length 
of the Sileni and their relations to the Satyrs. It is difficult to 
find any explanation of their name or to discover the region in 
which it originated, but it is not improbable that it, like that of 
the Satyrs, was once the name of some tribe or clan. On several 
points however we can be quite certain. They cannot be separ- 
ated from the Satyrs, since not only is Silenus regarded as the 
chief of the Satyrs, but Pausanias 1 gives us explicit information 
on this point. When speaking of a stone at Athens " of no 
great size but big enough for a little man to sit on, and on 
which, so said the folk, Silenus had rested when he came into 
the country along with Dionysus," he mentions " that elderly 
Satyrs are called Sileni." In another passage he states 2 that 
there was at Elis a temple dedicated to Silenus alone and 
not to him jointly with Dionysus. Me the ("Drunkenness") 
was represented handing to him a wine-cup, and the traveller 
remarks that the Sileni are a mortal race, as may be inferred 
especially from their graves. This identification of the Sileni 
with the Satyrs is thoroughly corroborated by two very impor- 
tant glosses in Hesychius 3 . In one of these we are told that 
according to Amerias the Sileni were called Sauadae by the 
Macedonians, whilst from the other we learn that amongst the 
Illyrians the Satyri were called Deuadae. Now there can be no 
doubt that in Deuadae and Sauadae we have only dialectic 
forms of the same name, as in the case of a well-known Illyrian 
or Macedonian tribe, which was termed both Dasaretii and 
Sesarethii 4 . In another gloss Hesychius 8 identifies the Sileni 
with the Satyri, whilst in yet another he calls them Hermeni. 

From these various passages it is fairly certain that there 
was no essential difference between Sileni and Satyri, and also 
that neither Illyrians nor Macedonians used the name Sileni, 
but had a different term of their own for the creatures whom 
we see on the Thracian coins 6 either as naked men (Figs. 2 and 3) 

1 i, 23, 5. 2 vi, 24, 8. 

3 s.v. ^avdoai 'Zaudoi 'A/J.eplas rovs SfiXijvovs ovru Ka\e'iff6ai </>i)ffiv viro 
'MaKe86vui>. s.v. AfvdScu. ol S&rvpoi irapa 'I\\vpiois. 

4 Ridgeway, " Who were the Dorians?" Anthropological Essays in honour 
of Tylor, p. 308. 

5 s.vv. SetXTji/o/ and "Epfj.r)t>oi. 

6 Head, Historia Numorum, pp. 174, 176-7. 


with horse's feet, ears, and tail (as at Lete), or as fully developed 
into Centaurs (Fig. 4), as on those of the Orrescii, who, as I have 
elsewhere pointed out, are probably no other than the Orestae, 
reckoned as a Macedonian tribe by Strabo. In another place 1 
I have shown that the Centaurs of Thessaly were simply a 
mountain tribe, living on Pelion, and that it was only at a late 
period that their neighbours imputed to them every brutal 
passion and represented them as semi-equine in order to typify 
their bestial lust. In the men with the tails, ears, and feet of 
horses on the Thracian coins we have the first step towards the 
Centaurs on those of the Orrescii. 

In the names Sileni, Deuadae or Sauadae, and Hermenoi, 
we have probably old tribal or clan names, as in the case ot 
the Centauri of Thessaly. In literature the name Sileni first 
occurs in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 2 , in which the 
Sileni and Hermes are represented as consorting with the 
nymphs in the recesses of the pleasant grots of Mount Ida. 
A passage of Pindar cited by Pausanias 3 represents Silenus as 
born at Malea and as having come from thence to Pyrrhichus, 
an inland town of Laconia. The name Silenus seems not to be 
old in Greece, and therefore may be regarded as imported either 
from northern Greece and Thrace, or possibly from north-west 
Asia Minor, whither of course it may well have passed with 
Thracian immigrants or with the cult of Dionysus. One fact ! 
of considerable importance comes out clearly, Sileni or Satyrs | 
are not represented in goat form on the archaic Thracian coins, 
but with equine attributes. There can be no doubt that the 
semi-equine representations of the Satyrs or Sileni in the act 
of carrying off women or nymphs refer to a wild and gross cult. 

It must be borne in mind that orgiastic and licentious rites 
have at all times and in many places been considered of great 
importance for fertilising the earth in seed-time, and accord- 
ingly Dionysus and his ribald company may be but part and 
parcel of a cult intimately connected with the fertilisation of the 
earth. Since the present writer first put forward this view, 
confirmatory evidence of a very important kind has come 
to hand not only from Thrace itself but also from Northern 

1 Ridgeway, The Early Age of Greece, vol. i, 173-5. 

2 261. 3 in, 25, 2. 


Greece. There seems to be no doubt that a ceremony still used 
in Thrace with a view to securing an abundant harvest, is 
a distinct survival of Dionysiac rites. 

The Modern Carnival in Thrace. My friend Mr R. M. 
Dawkins, Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Director 
of the British School at Athens, has described 1 what seems to be 
an undoubted survival of such ceremonies. It is the Carnival 
festival held in the district about Viza (ancient Bt^??) in Thrace, 
which was witnessed by Mr Dawkins in 1906. The ceremony had 
been previously described by G. M. Vizyenos, a native of Viza. 
His statements, based on personal knowledge dating back for 
forty years, Mr Dawkins was able to confirm from his own 
observations. Viza lies some eight hours by road north of the 
station of Tcherkesskeui on the railway between Constantinople 
and Adrianople, and nine hours from Midheia (Salmydessus) 
on the Black Sea. 

" In all the knot of Christian villages, of which Viza is the 
centre, the festival in question is celebrated annually on Cheese 
Monday (fvpivr) Aevrepa). This day begins the last week of 
Carnival, which culminates on the following Sunday (KvpiaKrj 
rov Tvpofayov). Lent then begins with Pure Monday (KaOapd 
Aeurepa), when not only meat, as during Carnival, but also all 
kinds of animal food except bloodless molluscs are forbidden. 
The masquerade of this day was, even when Vizyenos saw it, no 
longer kept up in its fullness at Viza itself, but only in the 
neighbouring villages, of which he takes Haghios Gheorghios 
(Turkish, Evrenlu) as an example." Mr Dawkins spent " Cheese 
Monday " at this village and during his stay of a week in the 
district was able to supplement his notes by inquiries about the 
observances in other places. The list of masqueraders is as 

I. " Two tcdXoyepoi (Fig. 7), who play the principal parts. 
Their disguise consists of a headdress formed of an entire goatskin 
without the horns, stuffed out with hay so as to rise like a great 
shako at least a foot or eighteen inches above the head, and 
adorned at the top with a piece of red ribbon. The skin falls 
over the face and neck, forming thus a mask, with holes cut 

1 Jour. Hell. Stud., 1906, pp. 191206, Figs. 18, "The Modern Carnival 
in Thrace and the Cult of Dionysus." 


out for the eyes and mouth. Round the waist three or four 
sheep-bells are tied, and their hands are blackened. Their 
shoulders are monstrously padded with hay to protect them 
from blows, which, from Vizyenos' account, they used to receive 
more freely than at present. He adds that the head-dress may 
be made of the skin of a fox or wolf and that fawnskins were 
worn on the shoulders, and upon the leg goatskins. The 
essential and indispensable elements, he says, are the mask and 
bells. It would seem from this that the resemblance of the 
actor to an animal was formerly a good deal more marked than 
at present. A little boy whom I saw on the Tuesday at Viza 
acting as kalogheros, the only part there surviving, wore a tall 
conical fur cap, and bells at his waist. He had no mask, but 
his face as well as his hands were blackened. In one of the 
villages the kalogheroi do not wear skins at all on their heads, but 
beehives. One of the kalogheroi at Haghios Gheorghios carries 
a wooden phallus and the other a mock bow. This bow (So^dpi) 
is in general appearance rather like a crossbow, but is made 
only to scatter ashes or powder." Vizyenos adds that the carrier 
of the bow is the leader of the two, and the other his servant 
and follower, a view endorsed by Mr Dawkins himself. In the 
drama with which the play closes it is the carrier of the bow 
who shoots the other, and in this point Vizyenos agrees with 
Mr Dawkins' observations. 

II. "Two boys dressed as girls (Koptro-ta), called also in 
some other villages, according to Vizyenos, vv<f>es, brides. These 
wear a white skirt and apron, a peasant woman's bodice open 
in front, and kerchiefs binding the chin and the brow. A third 
kerchief hangs down behind, and from beneath it escapes a 
corded black fringe like finely plaited hair. They check any 
liberties with knotted handkerchiefs weighted with a few 
bullets. It is to be noted that the kalogheroi at Haghios 
Gheorghios must be married men, and the koritsia unmarried. 
Vizyenos tells us also that these four actors are chosen for 
periods of four years and that during this time a koritsi may 
be betrothed, but must remain unmarried, a father being 
able to refuse to allow his son to take this part on the ground 
that he is thinking of getting married....'' 

R. T. 2 


III. Next comes a third female character, the Babo, a word 
in general use meaning an old woman. This personage was not 
represented in the play seen by Mr Dawkins, but her place was 
taken by the katsivela. The Babo herself still appears at other 
villages, and until quite recently was seen at Viza, where she 
has now been forbidden by the authorities. She is described 
by Vizyenos as a man dressed as an old woman carrying on 
her arm a basket containing "some absurd object or piece 
of wood swaddled in rags," which she treats as a baby. Of this 
child she is the kapsomana, and the child (liknites) is a seven- 
months child born out of lawful wedlock of a father whose name 
she does not know. Mr Dawkins was told at Viza that the 
Babo's child was always regarded as a bastard. Kapsomana, 
he was given to understand, meant nurse or foster-mother, but 
Vizyenos says that the Babo regards the child as her own, and 
kindred words make it almost certain that the real meaning is 
unmarried mother, mother of an illegitimate child. The word 
likni survives in the district meaning a cradle, made as usual 
of wood and shaped like a trough, and liknites is the local word 
for a baby in the cradle. " Nowhere else in Greece," writes 
Mr Dawkins, "have I found any evidence for these words used 
of baskets or cradles." 

IV. The katsiveloi, or Gipsies, dressed like the Babo in 
miserable rags. Vizyenos says that there were three or four, 
apparently all male, though elsewhere he incidentally mentions 
a female katsivela. Mr Dawkins saw two only, a man and his 
wife. They carried a sapling some ten or twelve feet long, and 
their faces and hands were blackened. The man had no other 
disguise, but his wife wore a woman's coat and on the head 
a kerchief and a little false hair. 

V. The Policemen. These are two or three young men 
carrying swords and whips, with embroidered kerchiefs tied 
round their fezzes. One of them carried also a length of chain 
for making captures. Lastly there is a man playing a bagpipe. 

"The masqueraders spend the day in visiting each house 
in the village, receiving everywhere bread, eggs or money. The 
two kalogheroi lead the crowd, knocking loudly at the doors 
with the bow and phallus, and with the koritsia generally dance 


a little hand-in-hand, before the housewife brings out her 
contribution. They are followed by the katsivelos and katsivela, 
who are especially privileged to scare fowls and rob nests. In 
general anything lying about may be seized as a pledge to be 
redeemed, and the koritsia especially carry off babies with this 
object, and occasionally capture a man with their handkerchiefs. 
A recurring feature is an obscene pantomime between the 
katsivelos and his wife on the straw-heaps in front of the houses." 

"By the afternoon no house was left unvisited, and everybody, 
men and women, gathered round the open space in front of the 
church. Here the drama proper is enacted. It began with 
a hand in hand dance of all the characters, the Policemen 
brandishing their drawn swords. The kalogheroi then withdrew, 
leaving the field to the Gipsy smiths, the katsivelos and his 
wife. These sat on the ground facing each other, and the 
katsivelos pounded on the ground with a stone, whilst the 
katsivela lifted her skirts up and down. This is understood to be 
a pantomimic representation of the forging of a plough-share, 
the man hammering like a blacksmith, whilst the fanning with 
the skirts represents the action of a pair of bellows. At this 
point, the Babo's child begins to get too big for the cradle, and, 
together with a huge appetite for meat and drink, he begins to 
demand a wife. This according to Vizyenos was followed by 
the chief kalogheros pursuing one of the koritsia and the 
celebration between them of a mock marriage, parodying the 
Greek rite of the bride and bridegroom. The first kalo- 
gheros is then seen sauntering about or standing the phallus 
upright on the ground and sitting upon it. Meanwhile his 
comrade stalks him from behind, and shoots him with the bow, 
whereupon the other falls down dead. After making sure that 
he is dead the slayer pretends to flay him. Whilst the kalogheros 
is thus lying dead his wife laments for him with loud cries, throw- 
ing herself across his prostrate body (Fig. 7). In this lament 
according to Vizyenos the slayer and the rest of the actors join, 
making a regular parody of a Christian funeral, burning dung 
as incense and pretending to sing the service, finally lifting 
up the corpse to carry it away." 

The slain man then suddenly comes to life. Next follows 



the serious part of the ceremony. There is another forging of 
the ploughshare, and this time it is a real share. At about this 
point all the implements used were thrown into the air with 
cries, /cat rov ^povov ("Next year also !"). The share being 
supposed to be finished, a real plough was brought and the 
mockery seemed to cease. Instead of oxen, the koritsia were 
yoked and dragged it round the village square twice contrary 
to the way of the sun. One of the kalogheroi was at the tail 
of the plough and the other guided it in front, whilst a man 
walked behind scattering seeds from a basket. Whilst the 
plough is being drawn, they cry, "May wheat be ten piastres 
the bushel! Rye five piastres the bushel! Barley three piastres 
the bushel! Amen, God, that the poor may eat! Yea, O God, 
that poor folk be filled." Mr Dawkins has kindly presented to 
the Cambridge Anthropological Museum the implements used 
in the play that he witnessed. 

There can be little doubt that we have in this local festival 
a survival of a coarse and orgiastic rite performed by the ancient 
Thracians in order to ensure fertility. It will be observed that 
the fox-skin, and the fawn-skin which are so prominent in the 
ancient Dionysiac rites here also survived, though now the 
goat-skin, probably because of its greater cheapness, seems to 
have replaced the skins of the wild animals used in the ancient 
cult. As the fox-skin and the fawn-skin both formed part of 
the ancient Thracian dress, and as the goat-skin was the most 
common form of dress in ancient Greece, we need not indulge 
in any speculations as to whether, in the modern Thracian play, 
we have evidence of the worship of a goat-god or a fox-god 
or a fawn-god. 

Epiphany Carnival in Thessaly. But such rude 
dramas are not confined to modern Thrace, for there is now 
evidence of their survival in Northern Greece. My friend 
Mr A. J. B. Wace, M.A., Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, 
has given me the following account of such a performance, which 
has lately come within his own cognizance, when engaged in 
making his important excavations in the prehistoric mounds of 
Thessaly. He first heard of it at Almyro in Phthiotis. 

On the eve of the Epiphany a kind of Satyric festival 



takes place. Men dressed in goat-skins dance and sing round 
the bonfires, and a kind of play is acted. "This carnival 

dance, which takes place on Epiphany eve and in many cases 
on Epiphany day itself, occurs in Phthiotis, the Thessalian 


plains, on Ossa, and in southern Macedonia, where Christians 
of other nationality than Greek (i.e. Albanian and Bulgarian) 
also celebrate it. The young men form bands about twelve 
strong, four of these act and the rest dance and sing in two semi- 
choruses. The four actors are the bridegroom (yafji(3p6<;) clad 
in a sheep- or goat-skin cloak with a mask of the same material 
wearing bells and carrying a rusty sword, the bride (vv<f>r)) a boy 
dressed in a bride's costume, the Arab ('Apd-m;?) wearing a 
fustanella, a fez and with his face blacked, and the doctor 
(larpos), a part sometimes doubled by the one who takes the part 
of the Arab. The thing opens with a dance of all, and a song 
relating to Epiphany that suggests a rain charm. Then while 
the other eight sing other songs of good luck relating to 
different members of the community the four actors dance. 
Presently the Arab molests the bride, then a quarrel ensues 
between him and the bridegroom, this usually ends in the 
latter being struck and falling down as though dead. The 
bride throws herself on his body and laments him, and entreats 
the doctor to restore him. The doctor comes, comforts the 
bride, examines the bridegroom with some horseplay, and finally 
revives him. The bridegroom then jumps up, and all dance 
joyfully, and the proceedings end with an obscene pantomime 
between the bridegroom and the bride. Nowadays the play 
is not acted as fully as this. Usually the actors are only two, 
the bride and the bridegroom, who is now compounded with 
the Arab. But the full play has been acted till quite recently, 
and when we saw the festival at Platanos in Phthiotis this 
January we saw some survivals of the older custom. This is 
the main outline of what is done. In addition the whole band 
go round the villages singing at each house and demanding 
presents in money or kind. In return they sing songs wishing 
the householder good luck, if however he refuses to give, they 
sing songs wishing him ill. The songs of course vary according 
to the occupation or profession of the householder and his 

" A full account of the festival with some of the songs sung 
I hope to publish shortly in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, as 
there are several other minor points of some interest. Also 




I hope to see this year a similar festival said to take place on 
Pelion on May 1st." 

The Skyros Carnival. At Skyros a Carnival custom 
described by Mr J. C. Lawson, M.A., Fellow of Pembroke 

FIG. 8. Skyros Masquerader. 

College, Cambridge, and also by Mr R. M. Daw-kins 1 , seems 

1 B. M. Dawkins, op. cit., pp. 202-3, Fig. 9 (from which my illustration (as 
well as Fig. 7) is taken by his kind permission). 


closely allied to those of which we have spoken, though much 
less of it is left. " There is no drama, but only the going about 
the town of sets of three masqueraders, the Old Man (Fig. 8) 
with bells and skin mask, and, according to Mr Lawson, with 
skin cape also, who answers to the leading kalogheros of Thrace, 
the Frank, not dressed in skins and probably corresponding to 
the second kalogheros, and the koritsi, a boy dressed as a girl." 

Abundant evidence will be given later on to show that 
goat-skins were the most common dress of the ancient inhabi- 
tants of Greece, and that there is no more reason to suppose 
the worship of Dionysus to be that of an ancient goat-god than 
there is for believing that Athena and Zeus were both goat- 
deities because the former is always represented with her aegis 
(goat-skin), and the Father of gods and men is regularly styled 
" goat-skin-wearer " in Homer. 

Dionysus in Greece. But to return to Thrace. From of 
old that region had been famous for its wine. Was not Maroneia 
the home of priest Maron, who gave Odysseus that potent 
vintage with which the hero ultimately beguiled Polyphemus 
to his bane ? The god who could make the corn grow, could 
also load the vine with goodly bunches, and as the juice of the 
grape had strange effects on men and women, it was naturally 
inferred that it was the god himself who was in the wine, and 
that he had taken possession of those who had drunk deeply of 
his gift. 

Nor is there wanting support for the view that the Bacchants 
were really the Thracian girls. They are regularly termed 
Bassaricae in allusion to the fox-skin (/Sao-o-opt?) which they 
wore, whilst the fawn-skin (j/e/3/at?) formed normally a part of 
their costume (Fig. 6) as well as of that of the god himself. Now 
both fox-skins and fawn-skins were a characteristic feature in the 
dress of the indigenous Thracians, as is shown by Herodotus 1 , 
for the Thracians in the army of Xerxes wore head-dresses of 
fox-skin and moccasins of fawn-skin, standing alone in these 
respects from all the other nationalities in that motley host. 
1 There is further evidence that Dionysus was not a native 
' Greek divinity, but an immigrant from Thrace, for where his 

1 vii, 75. 


worship appears in the former country, it is always spoken of as 
imported from Thrace and_ that at no remote periocL_ Thus 
at Thebes the chief seat of hi s worship in Greece, Dionyana 
is"~Found along with Ares, the other great Thracian male 
divinity, according to Homer and the later writers. But all 
the early legends declare that Thebes had been occupied by 
the Phlegyans, a great Thracian tribe, who appear in Homer in 
company with Ares. These Phlegyans also attacked Delphi, 
and though repulsed from that sacred spot, a remnant of them 
settled near Parnassus. Down to the time of Christ the people 
of Panopeus in Phocis declared that they were Thracians, and 
Pausanias 1 draws special attention to the un-Greek character of 
their town and its dwellings. It is also noteworthy that the 
only oracle of Dionysus of which we hear in Greece was at 
Amphicleia in Phocis. 

The evidence of Homer is amply confirmed by later] 
traditions, all of which declare unequivocally that Dionysus was\ 
a comparatively late comer into Greece. Thus the Athenians' 
themselves believed that this cult, so far from being indigenous, 
was first introduced into their city by their king Amphictyon, 
and that it was a certain Pegasus of Eleutherae, an Attic 
township, who had first brought the god into Attica, and 
introduced him to the notice of king Amphictyon. Moreover, 
there is no ancient shrine of Dionysus on the Acropolis of 
Athens, as might naturally have been expected, if he were one 
of the ancient divinities of the land, like Athena and Poseidon. 
Nor was it only at Athens that he was regarded as of foreign 
origin, for Plutarch tells us that Dionysus had supplanted the 
worship of Poseidon in Naxos. From these legends it seems 
clear that the Greeks of classical times regarded the cult of 
Dionysus as adventitious, and as having replaced in some 
localities at least, as in Naxos, older forms of worship. 

Mimetic dances. Were there no mimetic dances either 
grave or gay in Attica or Peloponnesus before the coming of 
the Thracian reveller with his Satyrs and Bacchants? Certainly 
in Attica in historical times there was the famous Bear dance 
at Brauron in which every Athenian girl had to participate 

1 x, 33. 11. 


dressed as a bear, when she came to nubile years, or else no 
man would marry her 1 . Some have seen a survival of Totemism 
in this ceremony, but it is far more likely to have been some 
form of initiatory rite accompanied by a mimetic dance, such as 
those known amongst many modern savages. It is hard there- 
fore to believe that this dance and others like it only arose after 
the arrival of the worship of Dionysus, with which it had at no 
time any connection, especially in view of the Athenian belief 
that the worship of Dionysus was not indigenous. 

Let us now pass into Argolis, the seat of the great dynasties 
in both pre-Achean and pre-Dorian days. The monuments of 
Mycenae disclose representations of sacred dances, in which the 
performers apparently wear masks formed of the skins of 
animals. These have been well compared by Mr A. B. Cook 2 and 
others to certain animal dances among savage peoples of our 
own day. But as dancing of some kind or other is universal 
amongst even the lowest races of mankind, it will hardly be 
maintained by anyone that dancing was totally unknown in 
Greece until Dionysus came from Thrace. But the tradition 
in Homer 3 that Daedalus the Athenian artificer made a famous 
"Dance" or "Dancing-ground" for Ariadne at Cnossus in Crete, 
combined with the representations of mimetic dances on relics 
of the Bronze Age of Mycenae and the survival of similar 
dances in Attica down to a late period, prove that both dancing 
and mimetic dancing were familiar in Greece before the in- 
coming of the Thracian cult. 

Let us next turn to one of the old Pelasgian towns of 
Argolis in which the aboriginal inhabitants not only continued 
to form the great mass of the population, but were strong 
enough to expel their Dorian lords. In the ancient town of 
Sicyon, so famous by its connection with Bellerophon, one of the 
chief heroes of the pre-Homeric days of Greece, a native by 
name Orthagoras headed his fellow-townsmen, and in B.C. 676 
overthrew the Dorian oligarchy and made himself master of 

1 AT. Lys. 645. 

2 "Animal Worship in the Mycenaean Age," Jour. Hell. Stud. vol. xiv (1894) 
pp. 81119. 

3 II. xvin, 592. 


the state. He and his descendants held the sovereignty for 
nearly a century, and that too by resting on the support of 
the democracy. Now whom did this Sicyonian democracy 
especially honour and worship ? No fact in Greek city life is""7 
more familiar than the practice of burying the oecist or founder / 
of the town or some great chief in the market-place, in order , 
that his spirit might keep watch and ward over his people, and 
that his bones might be kept as safely as possible for fear lest 
they, and consequently his spirit, might fall into the hands of an 
enemy, as had happened (so said the legend) in the case of the 
bones of Orestes 1 . So at Gyrene, Battus the founder was buried 
in the Agora : " There at the end of the market-place in death 
he lieth apart. Blest was he when he dwelt among men, and 
since his death the people worship him as their hero 2 ." This 
was no exceptional case, for an examination of Pausanias will 
convince anyone that there was not a town or a village in 
Greece which had not its own hero or heroine. So was it 
at Sicyon. In the very market-place stood the Heroum of 
Adrastus 3 , _vyho alone of the Seven Champions that fought 
against Thebes returned alive to his home. Cleisthenes was 
the last descendant of Orthagoras who reigned at Sicyon, for 
he had no son but an only daughter Agariste, who married 
Megacles the Athenian and became the mother of Cleisthenes, 
the Athenian lawgiver. In the reign of Cleisthenes (from 
before B.C. 595 to about 560) war broke out between Sicyon l 
and Argos, and the despot stopped the rhapsodists from con- 
tending in Epic recitations at Sicyon " because Argos and the 
Argives formed the chief theme of Homer." But his hatred of 
everything Argive did not stop at this. "There is," says 
Herodotus 4 , " in the very market-place of the Sicyonians the 
heroum of Adrastus the son of Talaus. Now Cleisthenes wished 
to cast him out of the country, inasmuch as he was an Argive. 
So he went to Delphi and asked the oracle if he might evict 
Adrastus (doubtless by casting his bones out of the country), 
but the Pythian prophetess replied that 'Adrastus was the 
king of Sicyon, whilst he (Cleisthenes) was only a stone-breaker.' 

1 Herod, i, 67-8. - Find. Pyth. iv, 87. 

3 Herod, v, 67-8. 4 v, 67-8. 


When the god thus would not permit him to work his will, 
he went home and bethought himself of a device by which 
Adrastus of his own accord would betake himself off. He went 
to Thebes in Boeotia and said that he wished to bring 
Melanippus, the son of Astacus, to Sicyon. Having fetched 
the bones of Melanippus, Cleisthenes assigned him a sacred 
enclosure in the Prytaneum itself and planted him there in the 
strongest part of it. He brought in Melanippus, because of all 
men he was most odious to Adrastus, inasmuch as he had killed 
Mecisteus and Tydeus, the brother and son-in-law of that hero. 
When Cleisthenes had appointed Melanippus his sacred 
enclosure, he took away the sacrifices and festivals from 
Adrastus, and gave them 'to Melanippus. Now the Sicyonians 
had been accustomed .to honour Adrastus magnificently, for 
Sicyon had been the land of Polybus, and Adrastus was 
daughter's son to Polybus, and the latter gave the kingdom 
to Adrastus. The Sicyonians honoured Adrastus, not only in 
other respects, but with ' tragic dances alluding to his sorrows,' 
not honouring Dionysus, but rather Adrastus. Cleisthenes 
assigned the dances to Dionysus, but the sacrifice to Melan- 
ippus 1 ." 

It is clear from this that the cult of Dionysus was not 
indigenous at Sicyon. It had been introduced there, as into 
Attica and Naxos, and superimposed on the cult of the ancient 
guardian hero of the land. We have thus proof not only of the 
existence of mimetic dances in Peloponnesus, but also of "tragic 

1 Herod, v, 67 : rd re Srj a\\a oi '2iicv<avioi irlfuav rov "Adpr}<rroi> Kal dif 
irpbs TO, irdBea. afrrov rpayiKoicrt \opolffi tytpaipov, rbv /JLV Atovwroc ot; Ttyauwres, rov 

Scholars with one accord have translated aTrtSuice "restored," assuming 
that the tragic dances must have always belonged to Dionysus, and that 
Cleisthenes simply gave back to that god what had been taken from him 
by the Sicyonians and given to Adrastus at a very recent date. But as 
Cleisthenes certainly did not "restore" the sacrifice to Melanippus, they are 
constrained to resort to a "zeugma" and translate dirtdwKe "assigned" in the 
second place. This of course is to strain the language to bolster up a false 
assumption, whilst it overlooks the fact that the regular meaning of dirodidtfj.i 
in all Greek dialects is to "assign," and that when Herodotus uses it in the 
sense of "restore" he adds dirlffw; cf. i, 13 : diroSovvai dirtou es 'HpaieXeiSas rijv 


1 dances " representing a hero's sufferings before the worship of 
(Dionysus was ever established there. 

What is the meaning of such " tragic dances," and why did 
the Sicyonians especially honour Adrastus, one of the ancient 
kings of their race ? Simply for the same reasons for which 
ancestors, heroes and saints have been, and still are being, 
worshipped almost everywhere under the sun. A good king in 
lifejwaajieemed to bring prosperity to his people. Thus the 
disguised Odysseus spake to Penelope: "Lady, no one of mortal 
men in the wide world could find fault with thee, for thy fame 
goes up to the wide heaven, as doth the fame of a blameless 
king, one that fears the gods, and reigns among many men and 
mighty, maintaining right, and thfL black earth bears wheat 
and barley, and the trees are laden with fruit, and the sheep 
bring forth and fail not, and the sea gives stores of fish, and all 
out of his good guidance, and the people prosper under him 1 ." 
Nor was this doctrine confined to Greece. It was held strongly 
also by peoples in Northern Europe. Although the doctrine of 
cremation passed upwards into Scandinavia with the cult of 
Odin, cremation never supersede^ inhumation. The masses 
held to the older custom. Why they did so is made plain by 
the following account of the death and burial of Freyr, the old 
Swedish king. " Freyr (Fro) . fell sick and when the sickness 
came upon him men sought counsel and allowed few men to 
approach him, and they built a great ho we, and put a door and | 
three windows on to it, and when Freyr was dead, they carried 
him secretly into the howe and told the Swedes that he was 
alive. And they kept him there three years 2 . When all the 
Swedes knew that Freyr was dead, but plenty and peace con- 
tinued, then they believed that it would so be as long as Freyr 
was in Sweden. So they would not burn him. And they called 
him the god of the world and have sacrificed greatly to him ever 
since for plenty and peace 3 ." 

When a great warrior dies and the arm that once brought 
victory to his people can no longer lift spear or sword, and 
though a great barrow be reared over his bones, all is not over : 
"E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires," 

1 Od. xix, 107 sqq. 2 Ynglinga Saga, c. 12. 3 ibid., c. 13. 


and the spirit of the dead man within is held to have the same 
passions and feelings in death that animated him in life. Thus 
in the Homeric Unseen World, that lay far away by the stream 
of Ocean in the West, Odysseus saw the phantom of Orion 
pursuing the spectral forms of the beasts that in life he had 
hunted over the lonely hills. The old chief within his grave- ' 
howe still thinks of his family and his people, and if they in 
their turn still think of him and nourish his spirit with offerings, 
and keep his vital element strengthened with libations of 
freshly-shed bloodj^hen will he help them in the hour of peril, 
and he will use his kindly influence with Earth beneath to make 
her yield her increase and to make fruitful the herds and flocks 
and women of his tribe*! Hence at Mycenae the older tombs of 
the royal house lay just within the gate ; at Babylon the tomb 
of an ancient queen Nitocris 1 was over the gateway; Phalanthus, 
the founder of Tarentum, lay in the Agora of that city ; whilst 
Brasidas, the brave Lacedaemonian general, was buried in the 
J3aarketrplace__at Amphipolis (B.C. 422) and worshipped as a hero. 
"At Tronis near Daulis there was a shrine of the hero-founder. 
Some say that this hero is Xanthippus, a famous warrior ; but 
others say that he is Phocus, the son of Ornytion, son of 
Sisyphus. However that may be, he is worshipped every day, 
and the Phocians bring victims, and the blood they pour 
through a hole into the grave, but the flesh it is their custom^ 
_ko consume-oa-ilie spot 2 ." 

Such a permanent opening into the grave to be used for 
offerings was discovered in the jrrgat barrow on the peninsula 
of Taman in South Russia near tne village of Steblejevka. 
It was the burial place of a rich Greek family who lived 
there in the fourth century B.C. When the barrow was opened 
in 1864, there came to light two sepulchral chambers and 
a funnel-shaped aperture Covered with a stou._^n_d_Jading 
down to a__glac_e enclosed with tiles on which a meal had 
evidently been offered to the dead 3 . Similar arrangements 
have been discovered in two Roman cemeteries near Carthage. 

1 Herod, i, 187. 2 Paus. x, 4. 10. 

3 Stephani, Compte-Rendu (St Petersburg), 1865, pp. 5 sqq.; Frazer, ad 
Paus. x, 4. 10. 


The tombs, which are numerous, are built of masonry and are i 
square in shape, about five feet high by two or three broad, f 
Each tomb enclosed one or more urns containing calcined bones. 
Each urn was covered with a saucer (patera) in the middle of 
which there was a hole, communicating with the exterior of 
the tomb by means of an earthenware tube placed either 
upright so as to come out at the top of the tomb or slanting so 
as to come out at one of the sides. Thus libations poured into the * 
tube ran down into the urn and after wetting the bones of the 
dead escaped by a hole into a lower cavity of the tomb 1 . I have 
noticed in the museum at Colchester a Roman coffin made of 
lead. From the lid projects slantwise a long leaden pipe, which 
evidently extended from the exterior of the tomb into the 
interior of the coffin. A similar coffin is said to be preserved 
at Seville. When Canon Greenwell excavated a large barrow 
on the Yorkshire moors, he found a curious aperture extending 
from the surface to the inside of the cairn. It contained 
the remains of a piece of wood which had evidently once 
been used to close it. I have suggested that this opening 
served the same purpose as the others just mentioned. 

Nor are we without proof that the same practice was 
carried out at the^Jjhaft graves of Mycenae. A large stone 
pierced with a hole, discovered over these graves near which 
were found not only animal but also human bones, tells its 
ghastly tale of the sacrifices rendered periodically to the spirits "* 
of the ancient lords of Mycenae. The large stone with a cavity 
in the inner court of the palace at Tiryns, commonly called the 
altar of Zeus Herkeios, is prefbably a similar bothros, or sacrificial 
pit, into which offerings to the spirits of the dead were poured. 
But this practice was not confined to the earliest stratum of 
population in Peloponnesus. Pindar 2 , when celebrating the 
glories of Olympia and her founder Pelops, tells how that hero 

1 A. L. Delattre, "Fouilles d'un cimetiere remain a Carthage en 1888," 
Revue Arch. 3feme serie, 12 (1888), p. 151 sqq. (cited by Frazer, loc. cit.). 

2 01. I, 91 sqq. : i>vt> d' Iv alfuutouptcut 



" shares in the honours of blood-offerings where he lies buried 
by Alpheus' stream, and has a barrow accessible on all sides 
near a much-visited altar" (i.e. the altar of Zeus on the Cronion 

As far then as the offerings of sacrifices to Adrastus are 
concerned we have an ample explanation in the instances here 
cited. But why should his sorrows be represented in mimetic 
dances ? We impute our own feelings to the dead and to our 
gods, and the Greeks of the old days believed, as countless races 
still believe, that what a man or a woman loved in life they 
love in the grave, and in the world beyond the grave. When 
a soldier dies, we give him a soldier's funeral and volleys of 
musketry are fired over his grave. In the case of an officer his 
charger is led after the funeral car, a survival of the time not 
long past when the horse would have been slain at the grave, in 
order that his master might ride him in the world of Spirits. 

"They buried the dark chief they freed 
Beside the grave his battle-steed ; 
And swift an arrow cleaved its way 
To his stern heart ! one piercing neigh 
Arose, and on the dead man's plain 
The rider grasps his steed again 1 ." 

So with the ancients and many barbarians of to-day. At the 
closing scene jousts and contests of manly prowess are held 
to please the spirit of the dead brave. Let us turn to Homer. 
On that dread day when Achilles and his Acheans went back 
to the hollow ships after the slaying of Hector, he suffered not 
his Myrmidons to unyoke their chariots but said, " First let us 
draw nigh and bewail Patrocles, and then shall we sup 2 ." So 
he and his Myrmidons thrice drove their chariots round the 
spot where Patrocles' body lay, because the dead hero had 
loved horsemanship in life and his spirit would be gladdened 
by the sight of his chariot-driving comrades, who had not 
forgotten him. Then, when the day came for burning the body, 

1 Thus as late as 1781 at the funeral of Frederic Casimir, Commander of 
Lorraine, a horse was killed and buried with his master. For this and similar 
instances, see Ridgeway, The Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse, 
p. 128. 

2 II. xxni, 410. 




Achilles held his great tournament which included every form 
of manly feat, that thus the soul of his lost friend might rejoice 
in knowing that he was not forgotten 1 . 

The oldest surviving poem in the English tongue, the Lay 
of Beowulf 2 , furnishes us not only with a fine example of the 
same custom in our own race, but also demonstrates the desire 
of the hero to be had in remembrance and the care of his 
people to carry out his wish. As the brave old chieftain lay a 
dying he gave his final orders to the last surviving one of his 
kinsmen : " I speak in words my thanks to the Ruler of all, the 
King of Glory, the Everlasting Lord, for the treasures which I 
here gaze upon, for that I have been able to win such things 
for my people ere my death-day. Now that for the hoard of 
treasure I have sold the laying-down of my old life, fulfil ye 
now the people's need ; here can I be no more. Bid the warlike 
brave raise a mound, bright with funeral fire, at the headland of 
the sea ; it shall tower high on Whale's Ness as a memorial for 
iny people, so that seafarers who drive tall ships from afar over 
the mists of ocean may call it in after time, Beowulf's Mound.... 
Then he took off his gold ring from his neck, gave to the thane 
his gold-adorned helm, his ring and coat-of-mail, and bade him 
use them well, saying to him : ' Thou art the last remnant of 
our race of the Waegmundings. Fate has swept away all my 
kinsmen, earls in valour, to the appointed doom. I must after 
them.' That was the old king's last word from the thoughts 
of his breast ere he sought the funeral pile, the hot, destroying 
flames. His soul departed from his bosom to seek the doom of 
the righteous." 

When the day came for his burial, " For him then the 
people of the Goths prepared on the ground a firm funeral pyre, 
hung with helms, war-shields, bright coats-of-mail, as he had 
asked. Then in the midst the warriors, the heroes laid the 
great prince, their beloved lord, lamenting. The warrior then 
began to kindle on the hill the greatest of funeral pyres ; the 
wood reek mounted up black above the burning pile, the roaring 
flame mingled with the sound of weeping when the tumult of 

1 II. xxui, 257 sqq. 

- Huyshe's translation, pp. 170-71, 179-80. 

R. T. 3 


the wind ceased until, glowing within, it had destroyed the 
corpse. Sad at heart, care-laden in mind, they mourned their 
liege lord's death. [Six mutilated lines follow, of which, how- 
ever, enough remains to reconstruct the meaning as follows : ] 
Likewise the wife of aforetime, with hair bound up, sang a 
mournful lay for Beowulf, often said that she sorely feared 
the evil days for herself, much slaughter, terror of warriors, 
humiliation and captivity. Heaven swallowed up the smoke ; 
then the people of the Weders made a Mound on the cliff ; high 
it was and broad, seen far and wide by seafarers, and for ten 
days they built the war-hero's beacon. The remains of the 
burning they surrounded with a wall as skilled men could most 
worthily devise. In the mound they placed rings and jewels, 
all such adornments as the war-minded men had before taken 
from the hoard. They left the treasure of earls to the earth to 
hold the gold in the ground where now it yet remains, as 
useless to men as it was before. 

" Then around the funeral Mound rode twelve battle-brave 
Athelings, sons of earls ; they would lament their (loss), mourn 
their king, utter the word-lay, and speak of the hero. They 
praised his nobleness and greatly extolled his heroic deed. 

" So is it meet that man should praise his friend and lord 
with words, love him in heart, when he must fare forth from 
the fleeting body. 

" Thus did the people of the Goths, companions of his hearth, 
mourn the fall of their lord; said that he was a world-king, 
mildest of men and kindest ; to his people most gracious, and 
of praise most desirous." 

Similar rites and laments attended the obsequies of the 
Hunnish kings. Jordanes 1 has preserved an account of some 
of the ceremonies carried out at the funeral of the mighty 
Attila, who had died on the night of his marriage with the 
beautiful Ildico. The body was placed in a silken pavilion, and 
then followed a strange spectacle. Horsemen, the flower of the 
Huns, riding round the spot where the king lay, uttering funeral 
laments, and recalling his exploits ; how Attila, foremost of the 
Huns, son of Mundzuccus, was the lord of most valiant nations ; 

1 De Getarum sive Gothonim Origine et Rebus gestis, XLIX. 


how with power unheard of before his day he became sole 
master of the kingdoms of Scythia and Germany; how by 
capturing cities he had struck terror into the Eastern and 
Western Empires, how he had yielded to their entreaties and 
had consented to receive an annual tribute in lieu of plundering 
them completely ; how after he had accomplished all this with 
unchequered good fortune, he had fallen not by the enemy's 
sword, nor by the treachery of his followers, but when his 
people were in full enjoyment of peace and prosperity, in the 
very midst of pleasure, he had met a painless death. Who 
would call this death ! When they had thus bewailed and 
lamented him to the full, they held over his grave-mound a 
funeral feast, termed in their tongue a strava, in which pleasure 
and grief were strangely commingled. Secretly in the silence of 
the night they laid his body in the earth. His coffin was 
furnished with gold, silver and iron, the iron typifying the 
sword with which he had subdued the nations, the gold and 
the silver the treasures won by his conquests. There were 
besides the weapons captured in his great victories, trappings 
adorned with precious stones and the various kinds of imperial 
insignia. To ensure the safety of these immense treasures, the 
slaves who carried out the work received a ghastly guerdon, for 
instant death sent the buriers to join the buried. 

In the funeral of Beowulf and Attila we have celebrations 
at the time of death and burial. But there is no lack of evidence 
that in many places periodic festivals were held at the graves of 
departed heroes. In a lonely spot in county Cork there is a little 
ancient Irish liss or fort with a single circular rampart in perfect 
preservation; just outside the entrance stands a barrow known 
through endless generations as the " Hillock of the Fair." Here 
until some forty years ago there was an annual gathering of 
the country folk for a fair, and foot-races were run alongside 
of the mound. Then the landlord had the fair transferred to 
a village some four miles distant, but, though the fair was moved 
to a thriving village from a desolate spot, it has practically 
died out. Then came a road-contractor who thought that 
the barrow, which was made of pieces of the local limestone, 
would supply good cheap material for the roads. He laid 



ruthless hands on the ancient mound and soon brought to light 
a fine cromlech composed of four upright stones, supporting 
as usual a great flat capstone. In the cist thus formed were 
found a bronze sword, human bones and other objects. Now it 
is clear why the footraces had been held there year by year from 
the Bronze Age down to our own time. The old chief delighted 
in manhood when in life, so in death his spirit was honoured 
by the enactment of manly feats as the seasons revolved. 

Nor is there any lack of evidence that such periodic cele- 
brations in honour of heroes were held in classical Greece. 
Pindar 1 declares that "the tomb of lolaus " was "a just witness" 
to the honour won by Epharmostus of^ Opus in Locris. This of 
course refers to the lolaea, the famous games held at Thebes, 
sometimes called the Heraclea, to commemorate Heracles and 
his faithful comrade lolaus. It is clear that the contests were 
held beside the tomb in order doubtless to please the spirit of 
the dead man within. The prize was a bronze tripod 2 . Besides 
this festival there were likewise others in Boeotia* in honour of 
old worthies, such as the Trophonia at Lebadea and the 
Amphiaraea at Oropus, in honour of Trophonius and Amphiaraus 

Moreover the victor in such games on his return to his 
native town sought to please the spirit of its chief hero by 
placing a wreath upon his shrine. Thus Pindar 3 proclaims that 
Epharmostus, the Opuntian athlete, " by being victorious hath 
crowned at the feast the altar of Ajax Oileus," the great hero 
of the Locrians, who regularly represented him on their coins 4 . 

But it is not only the ghosts of those who have enjoyed pros- 
perous and happy lives who love to be remembered. The souls of 
those who have suffered much and have had great catastrophes 
are especially supposed to take a melancholy pleasure in the 
remembrance of their woes. So in Hamlet 6 the ghost says : 

" Hamlet, remember me," 
and Hamlet replies, 

1 01. ix, 98-9. 2 Schol. Find. 01. vn, 154. 3 01. ix, 112. 

4 So at Gela tragedians sacrificed at the tomb of Aeschylus as to a hero and 
rehearsed their plays on it (Vit. Aesch.). 
B I. v. 


" Remember thee, ay, thou poor ghost, 
While memory holds her seat in this distracted globe" 

(placing his hand on his head). 

That the ghosts of those who have been murdered or have 
been done to death unjustly, like to have their sorrows kept 
in remembrance is no mere modern or mediaeval idea, but can 
be amply illustrated from ancient Greece itself. At Tegea 
in Arcadia 1 there was a curious annual ceremony, which throws 
some light on the origin of Tragedy and also shows how the 
worship of a god (and that god not necessarily Dionysus) may 
become connected with, or superimposed upon, that of a local 
personage. The people of Tegea held that Apollo was not an 
indigenous god in their land, although there were in their town 
certain images known as Apollo Agyieus. The Tegeans said 
that they had set these up for the following reason. Artemis 
and Apollo went to every country and took vengeance on all 
the men who had refused hospitality to their mother Leto as 
she wandered homeless in her pregnancy. When in their 
vengeful progress the twin deities arrived at Tegea, Scephrus, 
son of Tegeates the king, went up to Apollo and talked with 
him apart. Thereupon Limon his brother suspecting that what 
Scephrus was saying reflected on himself, ran at his brother 
and slew him. Punishment at once overtook the fratricide, for 
Artemis shot him. Tegeates and Maera his wife sacrificed to 
Apollo and Artemis at the time, but afterwards a great barren- 
ness fell upon the land and an oracle was sent from Delphi that 
they should bewail Scephrus. "So at the festival of Apollo 
they perform various ceremonies in honour of Scephrus, and in 
particular the priestess of Artemis pursues a man, feigning that 
she is Artemis and he Limon." 

That those who had been slain unjustly, more especially 
by those of kindred blood or race were supposed to be able to 
produce barrenness and bring blight on the crops and various 
ills upon both man and beast, is rendered certain by a famous 
story in Herodotus 2 : " The Phoceans, captured in the great 
^ea-fight at Alalia by the Etruscans and Carthaginians (B.C. 546), 
were brought to Agylla or Caere in Etruria. There their 
1 Paus. vni, 53. 2. 2 i, 167. 


captors divided the spoil and in the distribution by lot most 
of them seem to have fallen to the Etruscans. They led them 
forth and stoned them to death. After that it came to pass 
that everything belonging to the Agyllaeans that passed by 
the spot where the stoned Phoceans lay in death, whether 
cattle, beasts of burden, or human beings, became distorted, 
maimed or paralysed. The Agyllaeans accordingly sent to 
Delphi in their desire to atone for their sin and to obtain 
a respite from their punishment. The Pythian prophetess 
bade them do as they do unto this day they make great 
offerings to them as heroes and hold contests of athletes and 

It^is now clear that athletic feats, contests of horsemanship, 
and tragic dances are all part of the same principle the 
honouring and appeasing of the dead. More than one writer 
on Tragedy has felt the difficulty in explaining why it is that 
the earliest dithyrambs of which we hear were grave and 
solemn hymns rather than rude licentious vintage songs. This 
difficulty disappears as soon as we realise that they were 
composed to be sung round the graves of the mighty dead. 
At the great Dionysia a Cyclic chorus danced round the altar 
of the twelve gods at Athens, and there is little doubt that the 
Tragic chorus which honoured Adrastus danced round his tomb 
in the Agora at Sicyon, and we may be sure that the mimetic 
performance with which the ghost of Scephrus was placated at 
Tegea, was held close by his tomb. We have seen that in 
sacrificing to a hero no fire was employed, for the blood or the 
pelanos was poured into a bothros or hole beside or in the grave, 
or even as af Tronis, through an aperture reaching right down 
to the dead inside. But in the case of a god the offering was 
burned in order that its essence might thus ascend to heaven. 
When a hero was promoted to godhead, as was Heracles, the 
chief factor in his apotheosis was that henceforth he was 
honoured with fire offerings burned upon an altar instead of 
with a fireless pelanos poured into a hole in the grave. Adrastus 
must have been honoured at Sicyon in the latter way, but 
when the tragic chorus was taken from him and transferred 
to Dionysus, the tomb round which the chorus danced now 


became the altar of Dionysus and fire was kindled upon it, the 
tomb thus passing into a fire-altar. Thus arose the ihymele of 
Dionysus. Curiously enough Sicyon itself supplies us with the 
classical instance of a shrine which was both a heroum and 
also a fire-altar. The Sicyonians had continued to worship 
. Heracles as a hero, until Phaestus came and insisted on sacri- 
ficing to him as to a deity. The Sicyonians, wishing to 
make sure of doing what was right, continued both forms 
of ritual : " To this day," says Pausanias 1 , "the Sicyonians 
after slaying a lamb and burning the thighs on the altar, eat 
part of the flesh as of a regular sacrificial victim, and offer part 
of the flesh as to a hero," doubtless placing the flesh without 
fire in a bothros, in or at the base of the altar or on a table in 
front of the altar. 

In every town and village throughout Greece there was the 
shrine of the local hero or heroine, whose cult in later days 
in many cases had superimposed upon it that of some of the 
great divinities, such as Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon, Hermes, Artemis, 
Athena, or Dionysus. Hence we meet such combinations as 
Zeus Amphiaraus, Zeus Trophonius, Zeus Agamemnon, Hermes 
Aepytus, Artemis Orthia, Athena Alea, whilst Poseidon was 
worshipped in the Erechtheum on the same altar as Erechtheus, 
the tomb of the hero-king having become the fire-altar of the 
god; similarly at Tegea the cult of Scephrus seems to have 
merged into that of Apollo. 


Can we now get a clue to the true origin of the thymele 
which appears in the history of Tragedy as ah inseparable 
concomitant of the chorus ? The word thymele does not 
occur in Homer, but it is frequent, as might be expected, 
in the Attic tragedians. It is by no means confined to the 
altar of Dionysus, for it is commonly used of the altars of 
all the gods 2 . But from a fragment of Eupolis it seems also 
to have meant a cake, used in offerings, made of barley meal 

1 ii, 10. 1. 

2 Aesch. Suppl. 667 ; Eur. Ion 114 (TO.V 4>o//3oi> ffv^Xav), Suppl. 65 (8enrvpovs 
OfCiv 0i>yuAas), etc. 


and oil, from which it appears to be the same as thepelanos, the 
mixture of barley meal, honey and oil, which was offered not 
merely to gods, but also to the dead. The name thymele was 
likewise further extended to the whole shrine wherein stood 
the altar 1 . But here we are especially concerned with its use 
in the theatre. 

Let us first hear what the ancients themselves have to 
say on the matter. Pollux 2 , when enumerating the parts of 
a theatre, says : " The skene was appropriated to the actors, 
the orchestra to the chorus. In the orchestra was the thymele, 
whether it was a bema (a step or platform) or a homos (an altar 
or a tomb). On the stage was a bomos of the kind that stands 
in streets in front of house doors, and a table bearing cakes 
was termed the theoris or thyoris. The eleos was an old-fashioned 
table on which in the days before Thespis someone mounted 
and held a dialogue with the members of the Chorus 3 ." In the 
Etymologicum Magnum we have the following important state- 
ment on the word dvfj,e\.i)*. " The thymele of the theatre bears 
down to the present day a name derived from the circumstance 
that upon it the sacrifices are cut up, i.e. the sacrificial victims. 
It was on a table that they stood and sang in the country parts 
before Tragedy had taken proper shape." 

From these two passages we learn the following facts : 
(1) that on the skene stood a bomos (altar or tomb) of the kind 
customary in streets in front of the house door ; (2) that beside 
this stood a sacred table bearing cakes ; (3) that this table was 
not called thymele, but theoris or thyoris ; (4) that in the 
orchestra stood the thymele, either in the form of a bema (step, 
platform) or of a bomos (altar, tomb) ; (5) that in the days before 
Thespis a table called eleos (a common table for cutting up 

1 Eur. El. 713 : 0v/j.f\a.i 5' eirirvavro xpwnjXaroi. 

2 IV, 123 : K<d ffKTjvi) fj.ev viroKpiTu>i> idiov, i) 5e 6pxn<J"rpa TOV xP^i ^ v 77 Ka -l *l 
0v/j.\r), efre firjfjui n ovcra efre /ico/ttos. 

3 iv, 123 : twl Si T?)S ffKijvijs xa.1 dyvievs Zxtiro /3w/ios 6 irpb TWV Ovp&v, KO.I 
Tpdirefa irtfji/MiTa. Hx ovffa ' *7 Otwpls toi'O/'eTO rj Ovwpis. eXeds 5' 171' rpawf^a 

' r\v irpo Qtfftrtdos els m dvo/3a$ rois xP fVTa ^ direKpivaro. 
i) TOV Oedrpov ^XP 1 v ^ v ^""^ r '? J rpair^ftys (l}i>6/J,affTai, trapa. rb CTT' avrrjs TO. dvy 
TovrtffTi, TO. 0v6fieva iepfia. rpdirefa 5t r)v, l<f>' ^s v TO?J dypois rjSov, 
ur)irit> rd 


meat, etc.), of an old-fashioned type, was used as an extemporised 
stage on which someone, the poet or leader, mounted and held 
a dialogue with the other members of the Chorus. This shows 
that Thespis was not the first to introduce dialogue between 
some kind of actor and the chorus. The table on which the 
actor stood had nothing sacred about it. This statement of 
Pollux is amply confirmed by the second passage which declares j 
that in old days in the country parts before Tragedy had taken * 
its full shape, the singers stood and sang upon a table (trapeza). 'f 
We must therefore be careful not to confuse the sacred table 
(theoris), on which offerings were laid in front of the bomos, with 
the ordinary table extemporised into a stage. The derivation 
of thymele given above is virtually that still generally accepted, 
i.e. from Oveiv, " to sacrifice," lit. " to raise a smoke," that is, to 
offer burnt sacrifice. It is the term regularly used of sacrificing 
to gods, whilst the term evcvylfav is used of the "fireless 
offerings " made to the dead. Thus the offerings cut up on the 
thymele (according to the Etymologicum Magnum) were those 
to be offered with fire and therefore to a god, but at the same 
time it is quite possible that the term thyos, thysia, came to be 
used generally of all sorts of sacrifice. 

Pollux plainly had doubts whether the thymele was a bema 
(step or platform), or a bomos (altar or tomb), but it is very 
probable that the two coincided. A raised altar or tomb with 
or without a step or steps was nothing else than a bema (cf. 
Fig. 9, p. 45). By the time when Pollux was writing, the term 
thymele had come to be generally used of a raised platform. 
This too is certainly the sense in which it is employed by 
Plutarch where it is contrasted with the skene. Plutarch 1 uses 
it in several passages as a platform from which people spoke 
or sang, though at the same time he speaks of it as something 
distinct from the stage (skene). The scholiast on Aristophanes, 
Equites 516, uses it apparently in a like sense, for he repre- 
sents the comic poet as coming forward to the thymele to recite 

1 in, 119, 2 (Reiske) : Sulla, in celebration of his victory at Thebes, caused a 
thymele to be erected near the fountain of Oedipus; i, 447, 11: Alexander 
borne along with his companions on a lofty thymele drawn by eight horses ; 
vin, 456, 7: ffKyvijv Kal 


the Parabasis. On the strength of the latter passage and of 
one of those from Plutarch, to which I have just referred, 
Liddell and Scott (s.v.) explain the thymele as " an altar-shaped 
platform in the middle of the orchestra, on the steps of which 

: stood the leader of the Chorus (anciently the poet himself) to 
direct its movements." 

Mr Haigh 1 , adopting the view set forth by my friend Mr A. B. 
Cook 2 , Reader in Classical Archaeology in the University of 
Cambridge, says that " the first innovation was the introduction 
of a dialogue between the coryphaeus and the choreutae in the 
intervals of the choral ode. For the purpose of carrying on this 
dialogue the coryphaeus used to mount upon the sacrificial 
table, which stood beside the altar in the centre of the orchestra. 
Such sacrificial tables are often found in ancient vase paintings 
by the side of the regular altar, and were used for cutting up 
the victims or for receiving various bloodless offerings, such 
as cakes and vegetables. Both the table and the altar were 
called by the same name, thymele. This table on which the 
coryphaeus took his stand, surrounded by the choristers, was 
the prototype of the stage in the later Greek theatre." But 

! the reader will notice (1) that there is not a single word in the 
ancient sources (on which Mr Cook and Mr Haigh relied) to 
show that a table was ever called a thymele, and (2) to show 
that the sacred table which stood, not in the orchestra beside 
the thymele, but on the stage (skene), bearing on it sacred cakes, 
was identical with the ordinary common table used by rustics 
as a temporary platform on which they stood and sang. 

Let us turn to the material evidence. Various ancient 
theatres have been excavated in Greece in modern times, but 
only in one of them, that at Priene, have the remains of an 
altar been discovered. In this theatre some fifteen years ago 
the altar was found standing in its original position. It is 
placed just in front of the first row of seats, exactly opposite 
the centre of the stage 3 . Mr Haigh doubts whether this was 

1 The Attic Theatre (2nd ed., 1898), p. 106. 

2 "On the Thymele in Greek Theatres," Class. Review (1895), vol. ix, 
pp. 370-8. 

3 Haigh, The Attic Theatre (2nd ed.), p. 137. 


the usual position of the altar in a Greek theatre. " In the 
earliest period (writes he), when the drama was still a purely 
lyrical performance, the altar stood in the centre of the 
orchestra and the chorus danced round about it. The evidence 
supplied by the remains at Athens and Epidaurus rather 
favours the view that in these theatres it still occupied the 
same position." " In the middle of the theatre at Epidaurus 
there is a round stone, 28 inches in diameter, let into the ground, 
so as to be on the same level with the surrounding surface. In 
the middle of the stone is a circular hole. A similar hole is 
found in the later Athenian orchestra." The purpose of this 
stone cannot be determined with certainty. It has been sug- 
gested that these holes were meant for the reception of small 
stone altars. At Athens the surface of the fifth and fourth 
century orchestra has not been preserved, but the Roman 
pavement has survived, which may retain vestiges of the 
original design. There is no trace of an altar, but in the centre 
is a large rhombus-shaped figure bounded by two strips of 
marble. The interior of the figure is paved with small slabs 
of marble also rhombus-shaped and of different colours. In the 
middle of the figure is a block of Pentelic marble 41 inches long 
and 17| inches broad. The centre of the block has a shallow 
circular depression, which may have been intended to receive 
an altar of Dionysus. At the Piraeus the centre of the 
orchestra was marked by a small pit. The excavations at 
Megalopolis failed to find any remains of the thymele or altar, 
which doubtless stood in the centre of the orchestra 1 . 

It may be that in the depressions in the centre of the stone 
found in the middle of the orchestra at Athens we have really 
a hollow to receive offerings, and that the circular hole in the 
stone in the middle of the orchestra at Epidaurus, as also the 
pit found in the centre of the orchestra at Piraeus, may both 
have served a like purpose. These hollows may well represent 
the bothros into which offerings to dead heroes were placed. 
It was quite easy to place over these stones a temporary platform, 
such as the thymele had certainly become in Hellenistic and 
Roman times. 

1 Haigh and Cook, loc. cit. 


Mr Cook in his paper already cited has shown that the 
statements of Pollux and the Etymologicum Magnum are amply 
corroborated by the evidence of extant monuments. He points 
out that the table (trcm2&-QL-eleos} was a usual concomitant of 
a bomos (altar or tomb), and that it was employed to hold the 
objects to be offered on the bomos. But he seems wrong (a) in 
assuming that the trapeza or eleos on which the singers stood^ 
was identical with the sacred table (theoris), which stood beside 
the bomos on the stage (and not in the orchestra), and (6) in 
deducing from thence one form of thymele. In support of this 
he cites a Pan-Athenaic vase in the British Museum (B. 141), 
showing a musical contest between two persons confronted 
on a kind of platform. The platform is a horizontal table-top 
supported on legs, one showing at each end, the lower part of 
which is roughly carved to represent animal paws. In this he 
rightly recognizes the trapeza referred to by Pollux and the 
Etymologicum Magnum. Its shape, he thinks, accords precisely 
with that of a trapeza placed before the cultus statues of 
Dionysus Dendrites. But it does not follow that because a 
table used for holding offerings is in the same archaic form as 
the tables used for ordinary domestic purposes any singer would 
have ventured to stand upon and use as a platform the table 
dedicated to a god or hero. 

Another vase in the same collection (B. 188) shows an 
apparently solid bema, the motif being repeated twice with a 
slight variation : (a) a musical contest with a bema of three 
steps, on which stand two youths confronted, and (6) a bema of 
one step on which stand two youths side by side. There is 
thus archaeological evidence for the statement of Pollux and 
the Etymologicum Magnum that tables were used as extem- 
porary platforms by the rustics, though there is none to show 
that such tables were in any sense thymelae, whilst there is also 
proof that the thymele was a bema or platform of one or more 
steps. But such is the form of the tomb of Agamemnon 
(Fig. 14, p. 121). Moreover the tomb of Agamemnon in the 
Ghoephorae (p. 119) and that of Proteus in the Helena (p. 139) 
are compared to a bomos. /"Such bema can be seen in the illus- 
tration (Fig. 9), which I 'am enabled to show by the kindness of 





Mr Cook 1 . It is from a Theban black-figured scyphos in the 
British Museum (B. 78). It is thus described by Mr H. B. 
Walters : " Flute-player to left, with puffed out cheeks, 
wearing a beaded fillet and himation; in front of him, two 
grotesque nude figures to left, the first slightly bearded, 
holding up a tympanon (?) ; the other beardless, with a wreath 
in his hand and another on his head, standing on a thymele (?). 
On the left a branch." A very interesting discovery made in 
Athens in an ancient Dionysiac precinct near the Areopagus 
does not prove that the table was the thymele itself, for it may 
have been meant to bear offerings for the object of adoration. In 
the middle of the precinct " are the remains of an altar in the 
form of a table resting on four legs and beside this in the basis 
of the altar is a sinking for a stela." 2 It may be that we must 
not recognize, as has been done, a thymele in this table. Possibly 
it was a table for offerings presented to the stele or the object 
of veneration represented by that stele, whether Dionysus, or 
some ancient hero upon whose cult that of Dionysus may have 
been placed. Not only, as already said, were trapezai the regular 
accessories of altars, as on the Lycaean Mount in Arcadia, but 
even of much smaller objects of adoration. 

Thus at Chaeronea the supposed spear or sceptre of Aga- 
memnon was held in great sanctity, and a table stood beside it 3 . 
"The god whom the Chaeroneans honour most is the sceptre 
which Homer says Hephaestus made for Zeus. This sceptre 
they worship naming it a spear, and that there is something divine 
about it is proved by the distinction that it confers on its 
owners. There is no public temple built for it, but the man 
who acts as priest keeps the sceptre in his own house for a year 
and sacrifices are offered to it daily and a table is set beside it 
covered with all sorts of flesh and cakes." 

Here we have the sacred table of offerings corresponding 
with its cakes to the sacred table with cakes called theoris 
or thyoris, which stood on the ancient skene (stage) beside the 

The facts here set forth show that there were two forms of 

orship in the Greek theatre : 

1 op. cit., p. 374, with figure. 2 Cook, op. cit., p. 370. 3 Paus. ix, 4. 11-12. 


I. The bomos on the stage with its table of offerings. This 
bomos was like the conical pillars which stood in the streets 
before house doors, and called in later times Apollo Agyieus, but 
which were more probably the grave-stones of ancient worthies. 
The offerings to this bomos were cakes, such as those commonly 
offered to the dead. 

II. In the orchestra stood the thymele, a true altar for 
offering burnt sacrifices to the gods. This may also have had 
its table and have stood over a bothros. Here sacrifice was 
offered to Dionysus before the performance began. 

To this thymele came forward (Trapa/Sa?) the comic poet, or 
in his name the coryphaeus, to deliver the Parabasis, a term 
which derived its name from this circumstance. But as Comedy 
borrowed largely the practices established by Tragedy, it is not 
unreasonable to suppose that the leader of the solemn hymns or 
dithyrambs from which Tragedy arose also took his stand on 
the steps of the thymele or on some object near it, in later times 
a temporary platform. 

The Skene. But quite distinct from the table for offerings 
near the bomos on the stage, and possibly from the other one 
beside the thymele in the orchestra, there was the ordinary table 
used as a temporary stage in early times before Tragedy had 
taken its proper shape. It was out of such table-stages that 
the skene eventually grew and not from a sacred table for 


As there were two altars in the theatre, there were 
undoubtedly survivals of two distinct cults. Can we explain 
this hitherto neglected point ? The superimposition of the 
cults of Dionysus upon that of an old hero gives us exactly 
the explanation needed for the facts. 

At Sicyon the tomb of Adrastus stood right in the market- 
place and round it the tragic chorus that represented his 
sorrows danced their solemn measure and sang their solemn 
hymn. When Cleisthenes handed over to Dionysus the tragic 
choruses of Adrastus, the dance would still be held in the same 
place and the tomb of Adrastus would either become the fire- 


altar of Dionysus (thymele) or else a separate altar of Dionysus 
would be set up beside it or close by. Thus in the embryo of 
the Tragic theatre there were two centres of adoration, the tomb 
of the hero and the fire-altar of Dionysus, and at the sacred spot 
where before only the ritual of a hero was performed, there 
were now two cults; the one in honour of the old dead hero, 
the other with burnt sacrifice in honour of the god Dionysus. 
The shrine henceforth played a double part like that of Heracles 
close by (p. 38). 

But the religious principles that led to this double cult at 
Sicyon were at work all over Greece. In very many places 
the tomb of the old hero or heroine, in whose honour mimetic 
dances had been held from of old, was incorporated into the 
worship of some more potent divinity. If the new cult was 
that of Dionysus, the tomb either became the thymele of that 
god, or a fire altar was erected beside the tomb of the hero. 
But it does not follow that in every case where such super- 
imposition took place, Dionysus was the god who overshadowed 
the worship of the local hero. Thus we have seen that at Tegea in 
Arcadia the dramatic performance in honour of Scephrus did not 
form a part of the cult of the Thracian god, but was associated 
with that of Apollo. In a later section it will be shown at 
length that in the extant Greek tragedies the tombs of heroes 
play a very prominent part. At this stage it will suffice to cite 
one of the most striking instances. In the Ghoephori the 
tomb of Agamemnon forms the centre of the opening scene. 
To it approach from the palace the chorus of handmaids in 
attendance on Electra, their purpose being to offer at the 
command of Clytemnestra propitiatory offerings to the murdered 
king and husband, f The connection of the worship of Dionysus 
with festivals in which the cult of the dead bore a very im- 
portant part, has recently been placed beyond doubt in the case 
of the chief Attic festivals with which the name of that god is 
associated. These were (1) the Country Dionysia (ra tear dypovs) 
held in the country villages in the month of December, (2) the 
Lenaea, held at Athens in the second half of January (in the 
month anciently termed Lenaion from this very festival, but 
later Gamelion), (3) the Anthesteria held in Athens in March, 


(4) the Great or City Dionysia (TO. ev do-ret) held in the first part 
of April. It is obvious that all four festivals fall at seasons of 
the year when there is no vintage. 

Now as each Attic month bore a name 1 derived from the 
chief festival held at that season, we might naturally expect to 
find a month named after Dionysus, if the City Dionysia had 
been of great antiquity, or if the festival held at that time of 
year had had that god's name associated with it from a distant 
past. But the fact that such is not the case is exactly in 
accordance with its history. Plays were practically only 
to be seen at that festival and at the Lenaea, but there 
were also certain acting contests at the Anthesteria, whilst 
there were dramatic exhibitions in the various country town- 
ships during the Rural Dionysia, though in Athens itself there 
were apparently no performances at this season. Yet the 
dramatic performances at the Great Dionysia were only of a 
comparatively recent date. It was the principal time for the 
exhibition of tragedies, and it was at this festival that the 
earliest public competitions in Tragedy were established. The 
first contest was held in B.C. 535, when Thespis, now an old man, 
took part in the performances and won the crown of victory. 
It was but a short time before that date that Pisistratus had 
returned once more from exile and had begun his third and 
final tyranny. The regulations of the tragic contests must 
therefore have been carried out under his auspices. As the 
festival, at least in its more splendid form, is known to have 
been of a comparatively late date, critics have been led to con- 
jecture that the entire festival was first instituted by that 
despot. But it seems more probable that like the other three 

1 I have shown (Proc. Cambridge Philological Society (1907)), pp. 2, 3, that 
the termination -uv of the names of the Attic months (e.g. IloffeiSeuv, -wvos, 
EoTiSpofj.n!iv, Ta/j.7]\iu>i>, etc.) is simply the genitive plural of the name of the 
festival held in the particular month, IloffeiSeta, Hoffeideiwv, Tioi)dp6fua., BoTjSpo/*- 
iwv, FayttTjXia,', with the change of accent for differentiation of sense. 
The same explanation holds good for the nom. term, wv, e.g. iriOuv from wWav, 
gen. plur. of iriffos ; TrvXuv from gen. plur. irv\wv (irti\i)) etc. The month would 
be called /j.rjv Yafj.ri\iwv etc., and from such phrases as tiri ^ijvds ra/j.ri\iwv etc. 
the gen. would come to be regarded as a nom. sing, and be declined accordingly. 
Cf. Lat. sestertium, from sestertiorum, sestertium, gen. plur. of sestertius. 

R. T. 4 


festivals with which the name and worship of Dionysus became 
connected, it too was already in existence from an early date 
and was merely reorganised by Pisistratus under a new name 
with the addition of a new cult and the institution of elaborate 
dramatic contests. 

The villages of Attica had each their own local hero and to 
these local festivals of the dead the worship of Dionysus became 
attached, as it did to that of Adrastus at Sicyon. The 
Anthesteria was a great festival of the dead, as has been proved 
by Miss Harrison 1 . Its purpose, probably like that of the other 
festivals, was to ensure that the earth should yield her increase. 
On the third day, called the Ghytrae, " pots " of cooked vegetables 
were offered to the gods and to the dead, and there were Cyclic 
choruses. Of course it may be urged that these choruses were 
Dionysiac, but on the first day of the City Dionysia Cyclic 
choruses danced round the altar of the Twelve gods in the Agora, 
which plainly shows that such Cyclic dances were by no means 
confined at Athens to Dionysus. There can be no doubt that 
choruses were pre-Dionysiac in Attica as well as in other parts 
of Greece. If then such dramatic choruses were employed 
at a festival, mainly and originally that of the dead, for the 
dead were worshipped long before Dionysus was introduced, if 
through all times their cult continued, and if in older Attica 
there were men like Simonides, who composed such hymns or 
laments in honour of the dead, we are justified in considering 
that choruses at the Anthesteria were far older than the 
introduction of the cult of Dionysus into Athens. 


It is commonly held that in the early days of Tragedy the 
Satyric Drama invariably represented the sufferings or adven- 
tures of Dionysus and his attendant Satyrs, who, as we have 
seen, were probably merely his own Satrian tribesmen, just as 
the Bacchants represented the young women of that tribe. 
We have also had occasion to note that the cult in its native 
land was apparently a gross licentious ritual supposed, like 
those witnessed by Mr Dawkins in Thrace and by Mr Wace in 
1 Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, p. 34 sqq. 


Northern Greece, to have a potent effect on the fertility of women, 
flocks and fields. An examination of the evidence will convince 
the reader that the cult of Dionysus which entered Attica and 
Peloponnesus and the rest of Greece was of the same unclean 
character. According to the Attic tradition the worship of 
Dionysus was first introduced into Athens by king Amphictyon,to 
whose notice it had been brought by one Pegasus of Eleutherae, 
a town on the borders of Attica and Boeotia. Here Dionysus 
was worshipped, as also at Hermione in Argolis, the birthplace 
of Lasus, under the name of Melanaigis, " Wearer of the Black 
Goatskin." In a building near the precincts of the temple of 
Dionysus at Athens, Pausanias 1 saw "images of clay representing 
Amphictyon, king of Athens, feasting Dionysus and other gods. 
Here too is Pegasus of Eleutherae, who introduced the god to 
the Athenians by the aid of the Delphic oracle, which reminded 
the Athenians that in the days of Icarius the god had once 
sojourned in the land." At Hermione, says Pausanias 2 , they held 
annually a musical contest and a regatta in the god's honour at 
which prizes were given. The nature of the cult introduced by 
Pegasus we know well from the scholiast on Aristophanes (Achar- 
nians, 243) : "Pegasus of Eleutherae, a town in Boeotia, took the 
image of Dionysus and went into Attica. But the Athenians did 
not receive the god with honour. The god was wroth, and ac- 
cordingly a certain disease attacked them, which proved incurable. 
Now as the malady would not yield to magic or skill, in despair 
they despatched envoys in all haste (to Delphi). On their 
return they declared that the only means of curing the disease 
was to fetch the god with all honour. In obedience to these 
commands the Athenians, both privately and publicly, prepared 
phalloi and honoured the god with them, in perpetual memory 
of their affliction, also perhaps because the god is the cause 

1 i, 2. 5. 

2 ii, 35. 1. This passage (first pointed out by me, Jour. Hell. Stud. 1881, 
p. 315) is almost our only direct evidence from ancient writers for boat-racing 
amongst the ancient Greeks, though (as Hirschfeld has shown) the Attic 
Ephebic inscriptions prove that boat-racing was practised by the Athenian 
youths. There is probably a reference in a still earlier passage (Pindar, Isth. 
iv, 5) wes ev irbvry Ka.1 tv dp/j-affiv iirirot Sia rfdv, w Vacnra, TI/J.OV UKvSivdrots iv 

i 6av/jiaffTai ir^XovTai. 

4 2 


of the procreation of children, for drunkenness excites pleasure 
and acts as an aphrodisiac." No wonder then that Lycurgus the 
old Thracian king scourged Dionysus and his attendant women, 
and no wonder too that in B.C. 186 old Cato, then Censor, 
induced the Roman Senate to pass the famous decree de 
Bacchanalibus in his attempt to stamp out, or stem the advance 
of, those accursed rites. 

But one thing at least is certain. Our extant tragedies 
are singularly free from all impurity, and do not seem to 
have been fit instruments for celebrating the obscene cere- 
monies of the Dionysus of Eleutherae. But as the cult of 
Dionysus which entered Athens and the rest of Greece was 
a gross ritual, like its modern survivals in Thrace and Northern 
Greece (p. 16), that element ought to be found in the branch 
of Tragedy^ which was specially consecrated to Dionysus. Of 
this the Cyclops 1 of Euripides, the only extant Satyric drama, 
supplies the most indisputable evidence, for there is in it at 
least one passage meet to do honour to the god of Eleutherae 
after the manner prescribed for the Athenians on the intro- 
duction of his cult, and which forms a fit commentary on the 
representations of the Sileni or Satyrs seen on the coins of 
Thrace (Figs. 2 4). The speaker is none other than Silenus 
himself who is haranguing the Chorus of Satyrs in praise of 
wine and lechery. 

It is agreed by all that the Satyric Drama stood perfectly 
apart from Comedy (which as we are told by Aristotle arose out 
of the local phallic songs). Indeed the Satyric drama was 
termed by the ancients "Tragedy at play" (jrai^ova-a rpaywSt'a) 2 . 
As we have said above, it has been generally supposed to have 
grown out of rude licentious dithyrambs of the Dorians. But 
there is no evidence for the existence of such licentious 
dithyrambs, and as neither the dithyramb nor Tragedy itself 
can be held to be Dorian in origin, we must look for some other 
explanation of the Satyric drama, j' Now when the Chorus, which 

1 169-72 : &>' ten rovri r opObv f^ 

fjLaffTOu re $payfjL6s Kal Trap(ffKevao-fj.ti>ov 
\j/avffai "xepdiv Xet/iuJj'Oj, <5pxij(7Ti5s 6' a/ua 
KO.KWV re TtfjffTis. 

2 Demetrius, de elocut. 169. 


had for generations danced in honour of Adrastus, was transferred 
to Dionysus, some element of that god's own cult must have been 
added to the ritual round the heroum in the^ Agora at Sicyon. 
In the early days of Tragedy the Satyric dramas invariably con- 
sisted of the adventures of Dionysus and his attendant Satyrs, 
his own Satrian tribesmen. But as it has just been shown 
that Tragedy arose from the worship of native Greek heroes long 
before Dionysus came from his ancient seat on Mount Pangaeum, 
it may be that the only true Dionysiac element in the tragic 
performances at Athens and probably elsewhere was the Satyric 
drama. /This would be in complete harmony with the view of 
the ancients themselves who evidently regarded the Satyric 
drama as having an origin distinct from that of Tragedy 
proper, though both primarily arose out of choruses 1 . The 
Satyrs and Bacchants are certainly Thracian in their mytho- 
logical origin, and there can be no doubt that the foxskins and 
fawnskins of the latter were part of the ancient Thracian dress 
(p. 24). In the light of the facts obtained by Mr Dawkins and 
Mr Wace that the chief actors in the gross dramatic performances 
of modern Thrace and Thessaly not only now wear goatskins, 
but formerly used those of the fox and fawn (p. 17), we are led 
to the conclusion that the Satyric Drama, with its grossness and 
obscenity, its Sileni and its Satyrs, came down into Greece 
from Thrace along with the worship of Dionysus. 

This hypothesis completely accounts for the clear separa- 
tion in origin between it and Attic Comedy proper, though 
each arose out of gross performances, and also for the promi- 
nence of this class of play in the early days of the Drama. 
Thus Pratinas of Phlius, who, as we shall see, introduced this 
form of drama into Atticajio wards the end of the 5th_cejntury B.C., 
is said to have composed no less than thirty-two Satyric dramas 
and fifty tragedies, whilst Choerilus was so famous for his 
productions in the same field that it gave rise to the proverb, 
"when Choerilus was king among the Satyrs." As time went 
on the Satyric dramas dealt less and less with the adventures 
of Dionysus until finally, as in the Cyclops of Euripides, the 

1 Athen. 630 c : a\jvearr\K.e 8 /cai <ra.rvpi.Kr] iracra iroiriffis TO iraXaibv K xop&v ws 
KO.I rj rore 


only extant example, the leading character is not Dionysus, 
but some hero or other, in this case Odysseus, who fell in with 
Silenus and a rout of Satyrs. It was almost certainly this 
departure from the original strictly Dionysiac character that 
gave rise to the criticism of old-fashioned people "not a word 
about Dionysus" (ovBev 717)09 Aiovvcrov). Thus even that which 
had once been the true Dionysiac element faded before the 
national instincts of the Athenians, and with the invention of 
melodrama by Euripides and the rise of true Comedy it finally 
disappeared altogether. 

Thus the Alcestis the earliest extant work of Euripides, 
took the place of a regular Satyric drama in the tetralogy with 
which the poet obtained the second prize in B.C. 438, Sophocles 
being first. The other three works were the Cressae, the 
Alcmaeon, and the Telephus. The Greek argument describes 
the play as "somewhat comic 1 ," probably in allusion to the 
refusals of his father and all his friends to die instead of 
Admetus when that selfish egoist requests them to be his 
substitute, and also because of the boisterous behaviour of 
Heracles before he hears of the death of the heroine. The 
argument also terms it as " rather Satyric J " because it has a 
happy ending. Such a drama gave to the audience the relief 
necessary after three tragedies, whilst the desire of the Athenians 
for obscene buffoonery was now gratified to the full by the 
writers of the Old Comedy. Thus the Dionysiac grossness was 
finally purged out of Tragedy and the triumph of the native 
heroic element was complete. 

The time indeed was to come when Euripides, in his later 
years now resident at the court of Archelaus, was to glorify the 
invincible power of the great god of Thrace. Yet this was not 
to be in that coarse Satyric drama, which had its birth in 
Thrace, but in the great tragedy commonly known as the 
Bacchae, but more accurately styled Pentheus by the best 
ancient authorities. On this same theme of the Theban king 
Aeschylus had composed his play of the Pentheus, whilst 
Thespis was said to have dramatised it long before Pratinas 

x t T 'n v xaraffKevTjv . * . TO Sf Spa^d tart. ffarvptKurrepov on eis 
\a.po.v K 


ever introduced his Satyric drama into Athens. Thus in this 
play in which Euripides upheld the resistless power of Dionysus, 
he employs as his instrument not that dramatic type which had 
passed with the god down into Greece, but that lofty and noble 
form evolved on Greek soil from the worship of the heroic dead. 
Of course it has been said that the Satyric drama gave the 
comic relief to the tragedies which are supposed rightly 
or wrongly always to have preceded it. But it is clear that, 
though gross and obscene, it was distinctly an inherent part 
of the cult of the Thracian god of vegetation and fertility. 
In this it differs completely from the rustic buffoonery 
out of which, according to Aristotle, Comedy undoubtedly 
sprang. Although the origin of the latter is well known, it had 
no early history, for "it was only late that the Arch on granted 
a Comic chorus." The reason of this becomes obvious from 
what we have just seen. The Tragedy, which was the lineal 
descendant of the tragic dance and solemn hymn round the 
tomb of the old hero, was of real importance to the community, 
since it was essentially a religious rite, the omission of which 
might be fraught with dread consequences to the land. The 
State therefore naturally furnished the cost of the exhibition 
of tragedies. The Satyric drama was the worship of the new 
god from Thrace who performed the same functions for vegeta- 
tion as the old heroes of the land, but in a higher degree, and 
as it was grafted on the old ritual the State of necessity 
likewise defrayed the expenses of this act of worship. But 
Comedy, which grew out of mere rustic buffoonery, had no claim 
to respect as a religious ceremony, and accordingly the State 
did not take it up until after Tragedy had been developed 
into a distinct genre of literature, and until Comedy, which had 
been developed on the lines of Tragedy, was also recognised as 
a legitimate form of the Drama. 



Ignotura tragicae genus inuenisse Camenae 
Dicitur et plaustris uexisse poemata Thespis. 

HOR. Ars Poet. 275-6. 

RUDE dramatic performances representing the sufferings of 
heroes had long been performed at Sicyon as we have seen, and 
probably in numerous other places, both in Peloponnesus and in 
Greece north of the Isthmus. Thus, as already shown (p. 40), 
in the days before Thespis the poet or coryphaeus stood on a 
table and held a dialogue with the chorus. But it could not be 
said that Tragic art had taken full shape, or that there were 
professional actors. Doubtless there were not a few poets and 
leaders of tragic dances (for the poet in early times was the leader 
of his own chorus) who each in their day and generation 
made some attempt at a .more elaborate performance, though 
naturally for the most part their efforts were abortive. In the 
early stages of all arts and sciences the story is always the 
same. There are many pioneers, often regarded by their con-, 
temporaries as failures, if not as foolish and even wicked, as 
was the fate of the alchemists. Greek Philosophy itself has the 
same history. The Ionic Hylacists took each a single element, 
Thales waiter, Heraclitus fire, and Anaximenes air, out of which 
each supposed everything in Nature was formed. Empedocles, 
embracing all three and adding to them earth, formulated for 
the first time the doctrine of the Four Elements. Yet these 
great minds did not altogether escape contempt, for Aristotle 
when speaking of their successor, Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, 
and his doctrine of a Mind which arranged the amorphous 
elements into a well ordered Kosmos, declares that he appeared 


as "one sober amongst men full of wine." It is not then 
surprising that Aristotle 1 in his account of the origin of Tragedy 
wholly ignores all those who made the first steps in its evolution, 
not even making mention of Thespis himself or yet of so notable 
a man as Phrynichus. " Tragedy," says he, " advanced by slow 
degrees; each new element that showed itself was in turn 
( developed. Having passed through many changes, it found 
its natural form, and there it stopped. Aeschylus first intro- 
duced a second actor; he diminished the importance of the 
chorus and assigned the leading part to the dialogue. Sophocles 
raised the number of actors to three and added scene-painting. 
Moreover, it was not till late that the short plot was discarded 
for one of greater compass, and the grotesque diction of the 
earlier Satyric form for the stately manner of Tragedy. The 
iambic measure then replaced the trochaic tetrameter, which 
was originally employed when poetry was of the Satyric order 
and had greater affinities with dancing." To this last point 
we shall refer later on. The fact is that Aristotle was only 
interested in Tragedy as a fully developed art, and paid 
little heed to its early history. It was probably this dis- 
regard for its early stages that led him to the doctrine that 
Tragedy had arisen out of the grotesqueness of the Satyric 
drama. Yet this seems contrary to his own penetrating 
statement that " when Tragedy and Comedy came to light, 
the two classes of poets still followed their natural bent ; the 
lampooners became writers of Comedy, and the Epic poets 
were succeeded by Tragedians, since the drama was a larger and 
higher form of art." He likewise states that the Iliad and 
Odyssey bear the same relation to Tragedy, that the Margites 
does to Comedy. In this case he certainly does not derive 
Tragedy from the " grotesque diction " of the Satyric, but from 
the lofty epic diction in which the glories and sorrows of 
heroes were sung. A brief examination of the history of 
Tragedy will show that the latter view is the true one. 

Thus we know that before the time of Thespis there were 
some fifteen writers of Tragedy 2 , probably for the most part in 
Peloponnesus. It is not without significance that the first and 

1 Poetics iv. 2 Suidas s.v. Thespis. 


most distinguished of these, Epigenes, was a native of that 
very town of Sicyon, where long before the introduction of the 
cult of Dionysus there had been mimetic dances in honour of 
king Adrastus. It is not then a matter for surprise that 
ancient writers regarded the Sicyonians as the founders of 
Tragedy 1 or that Suidas 2 expressly dates the beginning of the 
Tragic art from Epigenes and Thespis. What advance, if any, 
Epigenes may have made we know not, for we have only a few 
vague statements respecting him. From one of these 3 we learn 
that he certainly did not confine himself to Dionysiac subjects. 

Thespis. The first beginnings of Tragedy in Attica are 
inseparably bound up by tradition with the name of Thespis, 
although before his time there were rude dramatic performances 
in which " someone mounted a table and held a dialogue with 
the members of the Chorus " (p. 40). This famous man was 
born at Icaria 4 , a deme or village of Attica, not far from the 
border of the Megarid, some time in the early part of the 
sixth century B.C. There can be no doubt that the per- 
formances which he gave in Athens were entirely of a new 
character. No better proof of this can be found than the 
anger which he excited in Solon, as is told by Plutarch 5 : 
" When Thespis and his companions began to make innovations 
in tragedy, the novelty of the thing attracted general attention, 
though as yet no public competition had been established. Solon, 
who was naturally fond of listening and learning, and who to a 
still greater degree in his old age indulged himself with leisure 
and amusement, and even with convivial drinking parties and 
music, went to see Thespis, who was himself acting, as was the 
custom in old times. When the play was over, Solon asked 
him if he were not ashamed to utter and act such lies in the 
presence of so great a company. On Thespis saying that there 
was no harm in speaking and acting thus ' for sport,' Solon 
smote the ground vehemently with his staff and said, ' If we go 

1 Themistius, or. xxvn, p. 406 (Dindorf). 

2 s.v. Thespis. 3 Zenob. v, 4; Suidas s.v. ovdtv wpbs ^.ibvixrov . 
4 Athen. 40 B: airb fj.tdrjs (cat ^ TT;S KUfjUfidia^ icai i) TIJS rpayvdias eiipe<m iv 

'I/capta T))J 'ATTIKTJS. 
8 Solon 29. 


v on praising and honouring this kind of sport, we shall soon find 

it at work in the serious affairs of life.' " 

Thespis and his company had as yet no rivals and no com- 
petitors, for dramatic contests were not established until many* 
years later. Mimetic dances had indeed been part, of the .ritual 
worship of heroes for untold generations, but there had been no 
contests between rival choruses or actors. Thespis was an old 
man by the time there was a prize for which to strive. Shortly 
before the 6 1st Olympiad (B.C. 536-5) Pisistratus, already twice 
despot of Athens and twice expelled, returned once more from 
exile and began his third reign, which was only to be terminated 
by death in B.C. 527. In B.C. 535 he founded the Great or City 

-Dionysia in honour of the Thracian god and instituted as a most 
important, if not the most important feature of the festival, a 
prize for tragic competition 1 . In this the aged Thespis took 
part,, and had the good fortune, not always vouchsafed to 
pioneers or inventors, to receive the crown of victory. Un- 
happily, Tradition has not left us the name of the play with 
which he won this first dramatic contest, but the titles of several 
of his tragedies have been preserved for us by Suidas 2 : *A#Xa 
IIe\ioi> rj 3>op/3a<?, 'lepet?, 'Ht'fleot, Hev0ev<;. But scholars have 
questioned the reliability of this statement on the ground 
that Aristoxenus 3 relates that Heraclides Ponticus composed 
tragedies and inscribed them with the name of Thespis. 
To these names we shall presently return. But though it 
was only in B.C. 535 that he entered for his first contest, his 
life had been devoted to the calling of both playwright and 
actor, for we have ample testimony that the early dramatists, 
as in our own Elizabethan age, acted in their own plays. 
We are not only told by Aristotle 4 that "in the early days 

1 Marmor Par. ep. 43 : a(f> ov Qtcriris 6 TTOITJTTJJ \<j>avrf\, TT/JWTOS 5s e'5t5ae 
[5p]a[>a ^ a]<TT[ei, /cat e']r<f07; 6 [r^pdyos [a6\ov], ?rij....The date unfortunately is 
lost, but must have fallen between B.C. 542 and B.C. 520, the preceding and sub- 
sequent epochs. Suidas doubtless refers to this same contest in his wqrds 
(s.v. 9&T7r) edidal-e 5 fwl TTJS wp&nis Kal ' 6\vfj.iriddos. 

2 s.v. Thespis. 

3 v, 92 : ipijal d' 'ApierT6wos 6 /uou(7t;c6j Kal rpayipSias 'HpaK\eiSi]v HOVTIKOV 
Tcoitlv Kal O^ffwidos tiriypd<peiv. 

4 Rhet. Ill, 1 : uirfKpivovro yap avrol ras rpaytpdias oi voirfral rb irpurov. 


of tragedy the poets themselves acted in their own dramas," 
but we know from Plutarch 1 that Thespis himself took the 
leading part in his own pieces. Tragedy must have become a 
definite form of art and literature before Pisistratus gave it so 
honourable a place in his new or expanded Athenian festival of 

By universal consent Thespis made the grand step in the 
evolution of the Tragic art. In what did this consist ? 
According to Diogenes Laertius 2 " in ancient times the chorus 
alone carried on the action, but Thespis invented a single 
f actor." But this cannot mean, as is commonly held, that 
Thespis first separated in some degree the coryphaeus from 
the chorus and made him interrupt the dithyramb with epic 
recitations, for as we have seen above (p. 40) before his time 
the poet or coryphaeus used to mount a table and hold a 
dialogue with the chorus. 

There seems no reason to doubt that Thespis in some way 
defined more exactly the position of the actor, especially by the 
introduction of a simple form of mask. We are told by Suidas 3 
that at first he smeared his face with white lead, next he 
covered it with purslane in his exhibitions, and finally he intro- 
duced the use of masks made of linen only. But it is likely 
that another and still more important step was made by 
him, as is asserted in the tradition embodied by Horace 4 . Prof. 
Mahaffy 5 says that "we must cast aside the nonsense talked 
by Horace of his (Thespis) being a strolling player, going about 
in a cart to fairs and markets," and he holds that "an acquaintance 
with the mysteries and deeper theology of the day suggested 
to Thespis the representation of human sorrow for a moral 
purpose," and that "with Thespis may have arisen the great 
conception, which we see full-blown in Aeschylus the in- 
tention of the drama to purify human sympathy by exercising 
it on great and apparently disproportioned afflictions of heroic 

1 Solon 29. 2 in, 56. 

3 s.v. Thespis: Kal irp&Tov /j.ev x/9'Vas TO irpbauirov \j/infj.vOii^ eTpayydrjffev, elra 
dvdpdxvrj ecrK^iraffev 4i> r< iri5eiKvvir6ai, Kal fjiera ravra ela-fiveyKe Kai TIJV T&V 
irpoffUTTfiuv \p9i<nv tv /J-bvri 666vr) KaraiTKevdffas ; Horace, A. P., 277, makes him 
use lees (peruncti faecibus ora). 

4 Ars Poet., 275-6. 8 Hist, of Greek Literature, vol. i, pp. 234-5. 


men, when the iron hand of a stern and unforgiving Providence 
chastises old transgressions, or represses the revolt of private 
judgement against established ordinance." 

Others 1 also reject the Horatian tradition on the grounds 
that it arose from confusing the first beginnings of Tragedy - 
with those of Comedy. In the latter beyond question "jests 
from a waggon " played a very important part, but there is no 
reason why a waggon should not likewise have taken a due 
share in the first efforts of the tragic actor, though for a purpose 
very different from that to which it was put by the scurrilous 
jesters who were the forerunners of Comedy proper. After all 
Horace is probably right. In early days the tragic choruses 
and dithyrambs were closely attached to the tombs of heroes 
and were only performed on festival occasions at these sacred 
spots. Thespis detached his chorus and dithyramb from some 
particular shrine, probably at Icaria his native place, and taking 
his company with him on waggons gave his performances on his 
extemporised stage when and where he could find an audience, 
not for religious purposes but for a pastime. Thus not merely by 
defining more accurately the role of the actor but also by lifting 
Tragedy from being a mere piece of religious ritual tied to a 
particular spot into a great form of literature, he was the true 
founder of the Tragic art. 

This view offers a reasonable explanation of Solon's anger 
on first seeing Thespis act. A performance which he would 
have regarded as fit and proper when enacted in some shrine 
of the gods or at a hero's tomb, not unnaturally roused his 
indignation when the exhibition was merely " for sport," as 
Thespis himself said (and doubtless also for profit), and not at 
some hallowed spot, but in any profane place where an audience 
might conveniently be collected. It may of course be said that 
the offence of Thespis in Solon's eyes consisted in the im- 
personation of heroes or of gods. But it is very likely that 
long before this time sacred dramas with impersonations of 
the gods were regularly performed in temple precincts, as 
for instance the Mystery Plays at Eleusis, as part of the 
regular ritual of the deity. 

1 W. Christ, Geschichte der Griechischen Litcratur, p. 175. 


It can hardly be maintained that it was simply the intro- 
duction of an actor who held a dialogue with the chorus that 
angered the great statesman and reformer, for as we have seen 
above (p. 40) long before the time of Thespis some sort of 
dialogue had been held between the chorus and a person 
mounted on a table. 

On the other hand, the representation of gods, not in or 
near their shrines, and of dead heroes far away from the graves 
in which their bones were at rest in the lap of their native land, 
must indeed have been not merely a great " novelty," as we are 
told it was, but a great shock, to the Greeks of the sixth 
century B.C. If this explanation of the grand step made by 
Thespis is correct, it can be exactly paralleled in the history of 
the mediaeval Drama. 

Mysteries and Miracles. The Mysteries and Miracles 
were essentially part of a religious ritual performed in honour 
of Christ or of some saint, as for instance the play of 
St Catharine, which the Norman Geoffrey, afterwards abbot of 
/ St Albans, caused to be represented at Dunstable some time 
prior to A.D. 1110, the earliest play of any kind known by name 
to have been acted in England. In process of time actors who 
had given successful performances of such Mystery and Miracle 
plays at some church in honour of some holy personage and for 
the edification of the faithful, began to wander about as strolling 
players ready to perform their piece wherever they could secure 
an audience, be it sacred edifice or inn-yard. In so doing they 
were transforming such plays from being merely a piece of 
religious ritual attached to some particular shrine into a true 
form of dramatic literature. 

Nor is it only in these respects that the mediaeval 
Christian drama may be compared with that of early Greece. 
Not only was the process of development similar, and not only 
did each rouse the same prejudices on the part of the more 
religious and staid part of the community, but each sprang 
from the same deep-rooted principle the honouring and pro- 
pitiation of the sacred dead, the hero and the saint and as a 
corollary even of the gods themselves. As the men of Sicyon 
thought that they pleased Adrastus by rehearsing and repre- 


senting his sorrows, so the Christian Church honoured its Divine 
Founder by continually keeping his Passion in remembrance, 
as he himself had ordained at the Last Supper. 

The Roman Church still further carries out this same 
principle of honouring Christ by exhibiting the manger-cradle 
and holy child at Christmas and his sepulchre at Easter. To 
this day when every ten years the peasants of Ober-Ammergau 
perform their Passion Play, they believe that by this solemn 
representation of the sufferings of Christ, they are doing what 
is pleasing in his sight. 

But if the leader of that company of peasant actors were 
to take it to some town or city and there perform the sacred drama 
in a theatre " for pastime " and for lucre, the feelings of their 
fellow-villagers and, I doubt not, of a far wider community, 
would not unnaturally be much the same as those roused in 
Solon's breast by the performance of Thespis. 

But before discussing other forms of primitive drama, s 
let us briefly review the successors of Thespis and the im- 
mediate forerunners of Aeschylus in the development qf the 
Tragic art. 


Pratinas. First of these comes Pratinas, a native of Phlius 
in Argolis. His father's name is variously given as Pyrrhonides 
or Encomius. According to Suidas 1 he is said to have been the 
first to compose a Satyric drama, and the lexicographer ascribes 
to him fifty plays of which thirty-two were Satyric. In B.C. 499 
when Aeschylus made his first appearance before the Athenian 
audience, Pratinas and Choerilus were his competitors, but 
nothing is known of the plays produced on that occasion. It 
was the collapse, during the performance of one of his pieces, 
of the temporary platforms (iicpia) on which the spectators were 
standing that led to the erection of the first regular theatre at 
Athens 2 . 

His son Aristeas followed in his father's footsteps, and the 
name of one of his Satyric dramas Cyclops has come down 

1 s.v. Pratinas. 2 Suidas, loc. cit. 


to us. This is of special interest since, as we have seen above, 
the only extant Satyric drama bears the same title and doubt- 
less was composed on the same theme. But in B.C. 467 when 
Aeschylus competed with Laius, Oedipus, Seven against Thebes, 
and the Satyric play Sphinx, Aristias was second with the 
Perseus, Tantalus, and the Satyric play Palaestae, composed 
by his father Pratinas 1 . Polyphradmon, son of Phrynichus, was 
third with the tetralogy of the Lycurgeia. The Palaestae is the 
only play of Pratinas of which the name has survived. 

A fragment of a hyporchema probably belonging to one of 
his Satyric dramas is extant. In a lyrical fragment still pre- 
served Pratinas 2 complains that the flute is now overpowering 
the voice : 

" The Muse made Song the qxieen. Let the flute keep its place in the 

It is but the servant of Song." 

This was probably due to the great changes made by Lasus of 
Hermione, a contemporary of Pratinas, who, as we have seen 
above (p. 9), deeply influenced the music of the day, amongst 
his innovations being a greater use of the flute. 

Choerilus. If Pratinas was the first to introduce the 
Satyric drama into Athens, his contemporary and rival Choerilus 
seems to have surpassed him in public estimation as a com- 
poser of this class of play. So great was his distinction in this 
branch of dramatic art that it gave rise to the proverb : " When 
Choerilus was king amongst the Satyrs 3 ." Choerilus first began 
to exhibit in B.C. 523, and according to Suidas 4 he wrote no 
less than one hundred and sixty plays and was victorious 
thirteen times. From the same source we learn that he made 
some improvements in masks, but what these were is uncertain ; 
perhaps they were Satyric. He, like Pratinas, was a competitor of 
Aeschylus when the latter made his first appearance in B.C. 499. 

Phrynichus. Pratinas and Choerilus are chiefly remem- 
bered for the part they took in the introduction and development 

1 Arg. to Aesch. Sept. c. Theb. 

2 Athen. 617 B : rav doidav Kar^ffracre Utepls /Saffi'Xettw 6 5' auXd 

teal yap tffd' vwrjpira.^. 

3 HVIKO. fj^v /3euri\ei>s rjv Xoip/Xos iv ^ar^pouri. * s.v. Xot/)(Xos. 


of the Satyric drama at Athens. But on the other hand their 
contemporary Phrynichus, son of Polyphradmon, is memorable 
for his share in the evolution of that true Tragedy which in the 
hands of Aeschylus was moulded into the greatest form of 
literature. Phrynichus made improvements on various sides of 
the tragic art metre, dances, structure of plot, and mise en scene. 
Thus he was the first to use trochaic tetrameters in Tragedy, 
and indeed he is called the inventor of that metre 1 traditions 
really not in conflict with the vague statement of Aristotle 
already cited (p. 57), that the tetrameter was discarded along 
with the short plot and that the iambic came into use along 
with that of greater compass. He was the first to introduce 
female characters and to employ female masks, and he invented 
a great number of new dances. In an epigram composed by 
himself 2 he boasts that he had devised " more figures in dancing 
than there are waves in the sea on a stormy night." 

All the early dramatists Thespis, Pratinas, Choerilus and 
Phrynichus were called " dancers 3 ," not only because of the pro- 
minent part which the chorus and the dancing filled in their 
plays, but also because they gave instruction in choric dancing. 
Aeschylus himself is said to have personally trained his choruses 
and to have invented many new dances and movements for them. 
Partly from Suidas, partly from other sources, we know the 
names of some half-score of the plays of Phrynichus : AIJVTTTIOI, 
'Arawi>, "AA.?7<TTi?, 'Ai/rato? 77 Ai/3ue9, At/catoi [57 Ile/ocrat rj 
AavaiSes, MtA^rou aXaxrt?, YlXevpoovtat, 

We know from Plutarch 4 that Themistocles acted as choregus 
for Phrynichus in B.C. 475 in a contest in which the dramatist 
was victorious, but unfortunately we are not certain respecting 
the name of the successful drama or dramas. The conjecture 
of Bentley that the Phoenissae was one of them is now generally 

1 Suidas, s.v. <I>pi5ux os ' evperris rov Terpa^rpov tytvero, cf. Arist. Poet. 4. 

2 Plut. Symp. 732 F: ffX'n/J-a-'ra $' ^pxn ffl ^ ^6<ra /aot irhpev, oad vi irovrip KVHO.TO. 

7T0161TCU \fifJ.O.Tl VVJ; dXoTJ. 

3 Athen. 22 A. 

4 Them. 5. Themistocles commemorated his victory on a pinax, Ge/uo-ro/cXTjs 
Qpeappios xpJl~Y fi i Qpi/vixos (didaaKfv, ' ASeifj-avros ypxe"- 

B. T. 5 


held to be right. This play has a special importance as there 
seems little doubt that Aeschylus modelled his Persae upon it. 
But still more famous from its historical associations is the 
Sack of Miletus, which the poet exhibited in B.C. 494. In it he 
was again the forerunner of Aeschylus in the widening of the 
scope of Tragedy, but he was unfortunate in this experiment in 
using current political events for dramatic purposes. The play 
dealt with the capture of Miletus by the Persians in B.C. 495 
(01. 71). But the horrors of the calamity suffered by their 
kinsfolk of Ionia were still too fresh in the minds of the 
Athenians. Herodotus 1 narrates how the whole theatre burst 
into tears, how his fellow-citizens fined the poet a thousand 
drachmae for having reminded them of their sorrows,and directed 
that no one for the future should dramatise this story. 

We have few remains of Phrynichus, but from the references 
to him in the plays of Aristophanes 2 , his compositions, especially 
his lyrics, were noted for their sweetness, and in the last 
quarter of the fifth century were still great favourites with the 
older generation. 

From one of his fragments quoted by Pausanias 3 we learn 
"how the brand was given by the Fates to Althea and how 
Meleager was not to die till the brand was consumed by fire, 
and how Althea in her rage burned it." " This legend," says 
.Pausanias, " was first dramatised by Phrynichus, son of Poly- 
phradmon, in his play of The Pleuronian Women": 

"For chilly doom 

He did not escape, for a swift flame consumed him 
While the brand was being destroyed by his grim mischief-working 

" Phrynichus, as we see, has not worked out the story in detail 
as an author would do with a creation of his own : he has merely 
touched it as a story already famous all over Greece." 

Polyphradmon, son of Phrynichus, followed his father's art 
and with his Lycurgeia was third in the contest in B.C. 467, 
when Aeschylus won the first prize with his tetralogy, one play 
of which was the Seven against Thebes*. 

1 vi, 21. 2 Aves 750 ; Vespae 219. 

3 x, 31. 4. 4 Arg. ad Aesch. Sept. c. Theb. 


Let us now sum up the results of our survey of the rise of 
Tragedy in Greece. 

There had been rude laments and dirges for the dead, cer- 
tainly from Homeric days, and we know not how long before 
unfeigned outpourings of the anguished heart for the loved one, 
later to be supplemented by the wail of the hireling. Such were 
those led by Achilles over Patrocles 1 , and by white-armed Andro- 
mache over the body of her brave lord 2 , when they had brought 
him to his famous house and " laid him on a carven bed and 
set beside him minstrels, leaders of the dirge, who wailed a 
mournful lay, while the women made moan with them." In 
the words of Achilles " Lamentation is the due of the dead." 
But the honouring of the dead did not end with the burning on 
the pyre or the consignment to the grave. Periodically solemn 
dances of a mimetic character, athletic contests and feats of 
arms, in honour of those long departed, had been the custom of 
the aboriginal population of Greece, long before the coming of 
either Achean or Dorian. This is amply proved by the celebra- 
tions in honour of Adrastus at Sicyon, of lolaus at Thebes, and 
by the traces of similar cults of the dead in the Shaft-graves of 
Mycenae, which date from the Bronze Age. 

At what precise date the gross rites of Dionysus were 
introduced into Athens we cannot say, though it was certainly 
early (pp. 51-2). On the other hand we can infer with high 
probability from the statements of Pindar and Herodotus re- 
specting the first performance of the dithyramb at Corinth in 
the reign of Periander (B.C. 625 585), that it was within that 
period that the worship of the god was introduced, publicly at 
least, into Corinth. It may also have been about the same 
time that the cult of Dionysus Melanaegis of Eleutherae was 
set up in Hermione, the birthplace of Lasus. 

Now as it was in the reign of Cleisthenes (circa B.C. 595 560) 
that the worship of Dionysus was introduced into Sicyon, it is 
not unlikely that when Cleisthenes was casting about for some 
way of ridding himself and Sicyon from the danger which he 
apprehended from the hero Adrastus (p. 27), the newly 
established cult of Dionysus at Corinth, with its famous dithy- 

1 II. xxni, 10. 2 IL xxiv, 720 sqq. 



ramb and chorus, came under his notice. He accordingly may 
have brought in not merely the hero Melanippus, but also the 
powerful new god from Thrace to aid him against his ghostly 
enemy. Whether this be so or not, the introduction of the 
cult of Dionysus into Sicyon cannot be set earlier than B.C. 600, 
and may have been some twenty years or more later. 

Now as Thespis was an old man in B.C. 535, and as Solon 
died in B.C. 558, Thespis must have been engaged in his pro- 
fession at least before the latter date and probably many years 
earlier, unless he had only taken to the dramatic calling rather 
late in life. We may not be far wrong if we place his public 
performances as early as B.C. 570. But as we are told that there 
were at least fifteen writers of Tragedy before him, the first of 
whom, according to' Suidas, was Epigenes of Sicyon, the latter 
must have been living and working at the very time when the 
cult of Dionysus had not yet been set up in that city, and when 
Adrastus was still the chief object of worship and was still 
honoured with " tragic dances which referred to his sorrows." 

Now the orthodox writers on the history of Greek Tragedy 
infer from the scanty data respecting Epigenes that he had 
already overstepped the narrow ring of Dionysiac themes and 
had celebrated ancient heroes without any reference to Dionysus. 
In other words, those who hold that Tragedy was origiijally 
confined to Dionysus and his vicissitudes, admit that in Sicyon 
at the very time when tragic dances in honour of Adrastus were 
still or had lately been a chief feature of that town, and when 
the cult of Dionysus had either not yet or but recently been 
introduced, Epigenes was writing dramas which had no reference 
to that god. But as he was writing dramas on subjects not 
Dionysiac either before or very shortly after the cult of that 
deity had been brought in by Cleisthenes, we must regard him 
as not breaking away from a tradition which strictly confined 
tragedies to Dionysiac themes, but rather as continuing the 
ancient practice of celebrating heroes in such compositions. 
Thus the unsubstantial fabric erected on the assumption that 
Tragedy in its first stage dealt with nothing else but Dionysiac 
subjects falls to the ground. 

When we come to the rise of Attic Tragedy the evidence, 


as far as it goes, points clearly in the same direction. The 
names of several of the plays of Thespis have been preserved, 
but these have been regarded as of doubtful -authenticity, 
because, according to Aristoxenus, Heraclides Ponticus wrote 
plays to which he prefixed the name of Thespis./Bnt as we are 
not told that these plays bore the same titles as those ascribed 
to Thespis by Suidas, it does not by any means follow that the 
latter are spurious. But even if the titles were the same, it is 
not unlikely that Heraclides would have chosen as titles for his 
spurious compositions names declared by tradition to be those 
of genuine works of the Father of Attic Tragedy. 

The titles as they have reached us indicate that the ancients 
most certainly did not believe that Thespis confined himself to 
Dionysiac subjects. Neither the Bachelors, nor the Priests, nor 
Phorbas imply any such connection, though the name Pentheus 
clearly indicates that the play was on the same subject as 
the Bacchae of Euripides, and was therefore in some sense on a 
Dionysiac theme. Thus the Attic tradition seems to be against 
any such limitation of plays to Dionysiac subjects even in the 
infancy of Tragedy. We may therefore not unreasonably con- 
clude that Thespis, like Epigenes, dramatised from the first the 
sorrows of heroes and heroines. This is confirmed by the fact 
that his younger contemporary, the lyric poet Simonides of 
Ceos, wrote a dithyramb called Memnon, whilst it is possible that 
Lasus also sang the sorrows of them of old time. 

The foregoing arguments gain further support from the fact 
that Thespis does not appear to have written Satyric dramas, 
for, as we have seen above, Pratinas of Phlius first introduced 
them into Athens, whilst his contemporary Choerilus developed 
this style. But as it is admitted that the Satyric dramas specially 
dealt with the adventures of Dionysus, it follows that Dionysiac 
themes did not form any considerable element in the plays of 

When we pass to Phrynichus our arguments are again 
strengthened, for not one of the nine or ten titles of his plays 
which have come down to us betrays the slightest indication 
that the plot has any reference to Dionysus. On the contrary, 
we have good reason for believing in the case of most of them 


that they dealt purely with heroes, and not with the Thracian 

We may therefore conclude with high probability that 
there was never a period, either at Corinth, Sicyon or Athens, 
or anywhere else in Greece, when dithyrambs and tragedies 
were restricted to the celebration of the exploits and sufferings 
of Dionysus, but that on the contrary from the first inception 
of anything like formal dithyrambs and tragedies, these were 
employed like the ruder forms out of which they sprang, to 
honour the illustrious dead, whose tombs, as in the case of 
Adrastus and lolaus, had been centres of worship for untold 
generations. This is quite in keeping with Aristotle's view 
that the tragedians were the lineal successors of the Epic 
poets, for the latter sang of the exploits and deaths of mighty 
men and the sorrows of heroines. 

At Sicyon itself the rhapsodists were reciting the poems of 
Homer, when the " tragic chorus " celebrated year by year in 
mimetic fashion the sorrows of Adrastus. In the Greek 
tragedies, as we have seen, the epic element has long been 
recognised in the speeches of the messengers (p. 7). Thus 
Tragedy is really a combination of the lyrical outburst of 
spontaneous grief for the dead and the heroic lay in which the 
deeds and trials of hero or heroine were recited in narrative 
form. In the fully developed Tragedy the lyrics sung by the 
chorus represent the immemorial laments for the dead, whilst 
the messengers' recitals and the dialogues of the dramatis 
personae correspond to the narrations and speeches of the Epic. 


Whilst in the preceding pages we have reviewed the origin 
and development of Tragedy in Peloponnesus and Attica we 
have restricted ourselves to the thing and have not attempted 
to discover the true origin of the name or to build any argu- 
ment upon it. As facts are always more important than mere 
terms, such an order of treatment seemed distinctly the most 
scientific. Now that we have completed our survey of the 
more material evidence, we are in a better position to attack 


the problems presented by the nomenclature of this branch of 
the Dramatic art and Literature. 

Tpa-ywSia. Let us first examine the word rpaiywSia. It is 
admitted by all that it is derived from rpaywSos, and that the 
latter is derived from Tpdyos, he-goat, and doiSos, sinq&\ This 
may mean (1) one who sings about a goat, and (2) one who 
sings as a goat, according as the first part of the compound is 
objective or subjective. Thus rpaywSia can mean either (1) a 
song about a goat, or (2) a song sung by a goat. 

Tpa-yiKo's. In discussing the term rpaywSia we must also 
take account of the term rpayiicos ^0/365, applied by Herodotus 
to the choruses which at Sicyon performed some dramatic 
representation of the sorrows of Adrastus. The term rpajiK6<; 
can mean either (1) something done in reference to a goat, or 
(2) something done by a goat or goats 1 . Thus rpayttcbs %o/oo<? 
may mean either (1) a chorus which celebrates a goat or goats, 
or (2) a chorus composed of goats. Thus both the possible 
meanings of the simple adjective correspond to those of the 
compound rpaywSia. 

Let us next consider the various views respecting the origin 
of the word rpaypSia and consequently of rpayiicos. 

I. It has been held by writers, both in ancient and modern 
times, that the name arose from the circumstance that a goat 
was the prize in the early Tragic contests. This, as we have 
seen (p. 6), is said to have been the case in the first 
Tragic competition, that established by Pisistratus at Athens in 
B.C. 535. Such a view implies that the term only arose after 
B.C. 535, and consequently the same must be held respecting 
the adjective tragic. Herodotus however speaks of tragic 
choruses at Sicyon long before this period. To this it is 
replied that Herodotus is only applying the language of his 
own day to certain choruses of an earlier period, when as yet the 
terms tragic and tragedy were still unknown. But to this question 
we shall return. It will suffice for the present to point out 
that, even if this allegation were true, it does not alter in the 
least the history of the rise of Tragedy. For though the name 

1 Cf. iiririKos ayuv, a contest in which horses took part, and 'nrirtKT] tfmrvri, a 
manger for horses. 


tragic may not have been employed, yet solemn dances of a 
mimetic character, such as those termed tragic in the time of 
Herodotus, were already in use at Sicyon to honour the hero 
Adrastus. But there are two strong objections to this explana- 
tion of, the origin of the term, (a) Although Tragedy had 
been virtually developed long before the time of Pisistratus, not 
only in Athens but in Peloponnesus, it is assumed that it had 
no name until after the foundation of the public competitions. 
But for this there is not the slightest evidence. (6) The 
analogy of the terms Kidapta&os, KCD/JIW&OS, K(0/j.<aSia point rather 
to a subjective meaning, though it has to be confessed that 
rpwywSos, the oldest term for a comic actor, may be explained 
in either way. 

II. The next explanation is that of Bentley, who held that 
tragoedia meant the song of the goats or goatmen, that is, the 
satyrs, whom he and many others assumed to have been always 
in caprine shape. However it is now established that in 
Thracian representations they were never regarded as goats, for 
they have always the ears, tails, and even the feet of horses 
(Figs. 2 5). The reason for this is not far to seek. When 
Man desires to attribute inordinate sensuality to his fellow- 
men, he assigns to them the moral qualities of the horse, the 
bull, or the goat. But Aristotle knew that this was a libel on. 
these animals and did not hesitate to say so. "Next after 
man," he wrote 1 , "the horse is the most lustful of all animals." 
In later times Satyrs were certainly pourtrayed in caprine form, 
as for instance on the Pandora vase 2 . This exhibits a group of 
masked Satyrlike beings pourtrayed as half-men, half-goats, 
dancing round a flute-player ; they have goat's horns on their 
heads and goat's hoofs instead of equine or human feet, their 
tails also being those of goats. But there is no evidence that 
this scene depicts a Satyric chorus. On a Naples vase 3 dated 
some fifty years later, Satyrlike beings are seen, but without 
goat's hoofs or horns, and with horse-like tails, the only part 
resembling a goat being a shaggy skin round the loins. This 
type with horsetails and goatskin loin cloths is likewise found 

1 Hist. An. vi, 2. 22. 2 Jour. Hell. Stud. vol. xi, pi. xi. 

3 Haigh, The Attic Theatre, p. 328, fig. 29. 


in the later representations 1 of Satyric choruses. If the Greeks 
conceived the Satyrs as goat-men and goat-footed, it is very 
strange that throughout the whole of Greek literature the 
epithet " goat-footed " is never found applied to them, an 
omission all the more significant since by the Roman writers 
they are regularly termed capripedes*. The Satyrs therefore 
cannot be themselves regarded as the origin of the term, more 
especially as their name gives its title to the Satyric drama, 
which, as we have seen, stood clearly apart from Tragedy. 
It seems unlikely that both the terms tragoedia and Satyric 
Drama would have been adopted from the Satyrs, more especially 
as it is clear that the very essence of Tragedy the rude dithy- 
ramb and the mimetic dance was already in use long before 
the introduction of the cult of Dionysus and his Satyrs. / 

III. In May 1909, Dr L. R. Farnell read a paper before 
1jhe Hellenic Society entitled " The Megala Dionysia and the 
Origin of Tragedy 3 ." In this he put forward a modification of 
Bentley's view, on which he based a criticism directed against 
the main theory of the present work. His paper has as yet 
only appeared in a summary, which I quote in full: 

" The origin of tragedy partly turned on the question about 
the date of the introduction of the cult of Dionysos 'E\et>- 
Oepevs from Eleutherai. Vollgraff's view was that this was 
only introduced shortly before the peace of Nikias ; if so the 
legend and cult of Eleutherai would not necessarily throw light 
on the origin of tragedy. But there were strong reasons 
against Vollgraff's view, and for supposing that the cult and 
cult-legends of Eleutherai reached Athens as early as the 
middle of the sixth century B.C. and that a new ' cathartic ' 
festival in spring was instituted to provide for the god of 
this new cult. Scholars had long felt the difficulty in the 
Aristotelian dogma that ' Tragedy ' arose somehow from the 
Dithyramb and was primarily ' Satyric ' : a new theory had 
been put forward that Tragedy arose not from Dionysiac ritual 
but from a mimetic service performed at the graves of heroes. 

1 Baumeister, Denkmiiler, fig. 424. 

2 Lucr. iv, 582; Hor. C. n, 19. 4. 

3 Jour. Hell. Stud. vol. xxix (1909), p. xlvii. 


But whatever advantages attached to this theory, it did not 
account, any more than the older theory accounted for, the 
name rpaywSia. No explanation of this word of any proba- 
bility had ever been put forth other than the obvious one, that 
it meant 'goat-song'; that is, according to the most likely 
analogies, the song of men dressed in goat-skins. The mistake 
hitherto made was to suppose that men so dressed were satyrs. 
/The original performers in the rpaywSia were worshippers of 
' Dionysos MeXdvaiyis, a god of the black goat-skin ; and their 
mimetic dance was solemn, sad, always tragic, probably originally 
a winter rite. The true meaning of the primitive service was 
indicated partly by the legend concerning Dionysos Me\('ivai>yi<;, 
and the duel between Melanthos and Xanthos, in which Black- 
man killed Fair-man, partly by the story of the Minyan i|roA.6et? 
of Orchomenos, who had to do with a ritual in which the 
young god was killed, partly by the discovery by Mr R. M. 
Dawkins of a Dionysiac Mummers' play in modern Thrace, 
in which goat-men appeared and a goat-man was slain and 
lamented. They must look for the origin of Attic tragedy in 
an ancient European Mummery, which was a winter-drama of 
the seasons, in which the Black personage Dionysos Me\dvaiyi<? 
or Me\av0o<f, or ol i/roXo'et? killed Xanthos the Fair One. The 
actors wore the black goat-skin of their god. Such a peasant 
mummery-play spreading through the North-Greek villages 
would often attract the local dramatic legend of some priest 
like Ikarosj who was slain in the service of the god : this would 
bring in the 'heroic' element, the death of the Dionysiac 
' hero ' : the heroic element triumphed, all heroes were admitted, 
and the black goat-skin was discarded. Finally the religious 
intention of the festival explained the Aristotelian theory of 
' Katharsis.' " 

Let us now examine the various points in this statement 

(1) The first to be noticed is that Dr Farnell admits that 
the Dionysiac Mummers' play, spreading to the North-Greek 
villages, found there local dramatic legends, and that " this 
would bring in the heroic element." In other words, after 
denying that Tragedy arose in the worship of heroes, he admits 


for it the dual origin, which I have put forward a native Greek 
and a Thracian since he holds that a " local dramatic legend " 
was often already in full operation, such as was the case at 
Sicyon, where there had already been mimetic choruses long 
before the worship of Dionysus Melanaegis (according to 
Dr Farnell) had been introduced into Athens and long before 
any cult of Dionysus had been brought into Sicyon. 

(2) Dr Farnell speaks as if Dionysus had come into Greece 
as Melanaegis, and was universally worshipped there under that 
title. But what are the facts ? It was only at Eleutherae, 
Athens, and Hermione in Argolis that he was worshipped under 
this cult-name. There is not a tittle of evidence to show that 
Dionysus was celebrated at Corinth under that name in the 
famous dithyramb of Arion, or that the god was brought into 
Sicyon in that form : indeed the two ancient statements re- 
specting the origin of the name Melanaegis distinctly indicate 
that it was a very special phase of the god and by no means 
the ordinary form under which he was venerated. 

The account given by Suidas 1 is as follows: "They set up 
the worship of Dionysus Melanaegis for the following reason: 
the daughters of Eleuther beheld an apparition of Dionysus 
clad in a black goatskin, and found fault with it. Thereat the 
god was enraged and drove them mad. After that Eleuther 
was instructed by an oracle to cure their madness by honouring 
Dionysus of the Black Goatskin." The other account is given 
by the Scholiast on Aristophanes 2 . " War broke out between 
the Athenians and the Boeotians for the possession of Celaenae, 
a place on their borders. Xanthus, the Boeotian, challenged 
the Athenian king Thymoetes. When the latter declined the 
challenge, Melanthus a Messenian (of the race of Periclymenus, 
the son of Neleus), then living at Athens, took up the challenge 
with an eye to obtaining the kingdom. When they met in 
single combat Melanthus saw someone behind Xanthus clad 
in the skin of a he-goat (rpayrj), that is, a black goatskin 
(alyis), and he cried out that it was not fair for him to bring 
a second. The other looked behind, and Melanthus at once 
struck him and slew him. In consequence of this the festival 

1 s.v. fifrav. 2 Ach. 146. 


of the Apaturia and of Dionysus Melanaegis was established." 
It is quite plain from these two passages that the form under 
which Dionysus was supposed to have appeared at Eleutherae, 
- whether it was to the daughters of Eleuther, the eponymous 
hero of that village, or to Melanthus, the Messenian, was in a 
guise hitherto unknown to Greece. Otherwise there would 
have been no reason for setting up a brand new cult of him 
under this particular title. Exact parallels occur in modern 
times. At some particular place, be it Lourdes or Knock or 
Loretto, someone sees a vision of the Madonna, and in conse- 
quence of this a new cult of a particular phase of the Virgin is 
set up. But it does not follow that this particular phase 
becomes universal. Just as the cult of a special aspect of 
Dionysus was brought into Athens and Hermione, so too that 
of Our Lady of Loretto is set up in various places. 

Again though Dr Farnell assumes that the cult of Dionysus 
Melanaegis only got into Athens about the middle of the sixth 
century B.C., shortly before the Great Dionysia with their tragic 
contests were established by Pisistratus in B.C. 535, yet the 
ancients thought that it had been introduced circa B.C. 1100 in 
the regal period, and associated it with the very ancient festival 
of the Apaturia. But the latter was already of great importance 
when the lonians 1 settled in Asia after the Doric invasion 
(B.C. 1104). Now if Attic Tragedy and the name Tragoedia 
arose at Athens from the worship of Dionysus Melanaegis, 
we ought to find Tragedies, which are supposed by Dr Farnell 
to be an essential element of that cult, forming an integral part 
of the Apaturia. Yet it was only at the Lenaea and the 
Great Dionysia that such plays were acted, whilst no dramatic 
performance of any kind was included in the ceremonies of 
the Apaturia. Nor is there any evidence that the acting 
of tragedies formed a part of the ritual at Eleutherae or 
Hermione, although we know that in the latter place his 
festival was annually celebrated with musical contests and a 
regatta and swimming races 2 . Nor was Dionysus the only or 
the chief deity venerated at the Apaturia, that great festival of 
the Phratriae. On the first day, called Dorpeia, every citizen 
1 Herod, i, 47. 2 Paus. u, 35. 1. 


went in the evening to the phratrium, or to the house of some 
wealthy member of his own phratria, and there feasted. The 
second day was termed Anarrhusis, from the sacrifice offered 
on that day to Zeus Phratrius, and to Athena and sometimes 
to Dionysus Melanaegis. But according to Harpocration the 
Athenians on that occasion dressed in their finest apparel, 
kindled torches on the altar of Hephaestus, and sacrificed to, and 
sang in honour of, that deity. On the third day, called Koureotis, 
the children born that year in the families of the phratria, or 
such as had not yet been entered on the roll of the phratria, 
were presented by their fathers or guardians to the phratores. 
For each child a probaton 1 was sacrificed. It is therefore quite 
clear that Dionysus Melanaegis formed but a mere adjunct of a 
very ancient festival, that his worship had been brought from 
Eleutherae to Athens long before the sixth century B.C., that 
there was at no period any dramatic performance, tragic or 
otherwise, at the festival of the Apaturia, that the sacrifices 
offered on the third day were not confined to a he-goat, as it is 
termed a probaton, a word which in Attic Greek is almost 
always confined to a sheep and is not used of goats. 

To Dr FameH's fanciful explanation of the names Xanthus 
and Melanthus, and to his comparison with the Psoloeis, we 
shall return later. 

(3) Dr Farnell, in confining his thesis to the origin of 
Attic Tragedy, shuts his eyes to the historical facts which pre- 
clude us from treating the origin of Attic Tragedy and the 
name tragoedia apart from the rise of that art in other parts of 
Greece, and he ignores the statements of the ancient authorities 
that Thespis was already acting dramas, known to them as 
tragedies, long before the death of Solon in B.C. 558 and the 
institution of the Great Dionysia in B.C. 535. Thespis was not 
the first composer of such tragedies, for already Epigenes of 
Sicyon had written tragedies, and there is reason for believing 
that some of these at least had no reference to Dionysus 
(p. 68). Furthermore, there are said to have been many other 
dramatic writers in the interval between Epigenes and Thespis. 
(4) Dr Farnell told us that we " must look for the origin 

1 Schol. Ar. Ran. 810. 


of Attic tragedy in an ancient European Mummery, which was 
a winter-drama of the seasons, in which the Bla^k personage 
Dionysos MeXdvavyis or MeXat'^o?, or ol i/roXoet? killed 
Xanthos the Fair One. The actors wore the black goat-skin of 
their god." Dr Farnell does not in his summary expressly term 
Dionysus a goat-god, though it is distinctly implied in his words 
just cited. He bases his view principally on the modern play 
seen in Thrace by Mr Dawkins "in which goat-men appeared 
and a goat-man was slain and lamented." Thus there can be 
little doubt that he means that Dionysus was a goat-god. 
What is the proof of this ? If he were really worshipped under 
an animal form when he -was brought into Greece, evidence of 
this ought easily to be found in the shapes which he takes in 
literature and art, and in the victims sacrificed to him. A brief 
investigation will demonstrate that there is little evidence for 
his connection with the goat, but an overwhelming mass of 
proof for his intimate relation with the bull 1 . 

The Bull. Dionysus is specially conceived of as in taurine 
form. Thus he is called " Cow-born," " Bull-shaped," "Bull-faced," 
"Bull-browed," "Bull-horned," "Horn-bearing," "Two-horned," 
and " Horned." The last three epithets of course might apply 
equally well to him, if there were other evidence for his repre- 
sentati6n in goat-form. Again.he was believed to manifest himself 
at least occasionally as a bull ; his images, as at Cyzicus, were 
often made in the form of a bull, or with bull's horns, and he was 
similarly represented with horns in paintings. In one statuette 
he is shown clad in a bull's hide, the head, horns and hoofs 
hanging down behind. The women of Elis, as we are told 
by Plutarch 2 , hailed him with this invocation: "Come hither, 
Dionysus, to thy holy temple by the sea ; come with the Graces 
to thy temple, rushing with thy bull's foot, goodly bull, O 
goodly bull ! " According to the myth he was in the shape of a 
bull when he was torn to pieces by the Titans, and when the 
Cretans acted his sufferings and death, they rent a live bull in 
pieces with their teeth. "Indeed," writes Prof. Frazer, "the 

1 Prof. J. G. Frazer, Golden Bough, vol. n, p. 164 (2nd ed.) has collected all 
the evidence for the bull, goat and fawn. 

2 Quaest. Graec. 36 ; Isis and Osiris, 35. 


rending and devouring of live bulls and calves appears to have 
been a regular feature of the Dionysiac rites." This last practice 
needs no better illustration than the famous passage in the 
Bacchae of Euripides 1 . Again he is represented as a child with 
clusters of grapes round his brow, and with a calf s head with 
sprouting horns attached to the back of his head. On a red- 
figured vase the god is pourtrayed as a calf-headed child seated 
in a woman's lap. 

When treating of the Dithyramb (p. 6) we have had occasion 
to notice the practice of the Cynaethians who, at their feast in 
honour of the god, went forth and seized from a herd the bull 
which the god himself directed them to take and to bear away 
to sacrifice. What is still more important for our present inquiry 
is that on the first day of the Great Dionysia at Athens, the 
Ephebi provided as the victim for the god, not a goat but a bull. 
Yet Dr Farnell holds that the Great Dionysia and its tragic 
contests were especially associated with the cult of Dionysus 
Melanaegis, the goat-god. 

We have already seen that to the first fully matured 
Dionysiac dithyramb, that of Arion at Corinth, the name ox- 
driving was given by Pindar, which may well mean, as explained 
by the scholiast, that the victim was a bull, as was the case 
with the Cynaethians and the Athenians. 

Thus then in classical times, Dionysus was regularly 
worshipped as tauriform, and as appearing in this guise to his 
votaries, whilst the victims torn to pieces or offered with less 
frantic rites, as at Athens, were normally bulls or calves and 
not goats. 

The Goat. Now let us turn to the evidence for the 
connection of the goat with Dionysus. That god is never 
termed tragos, though, according to a legend preserved by 
Apollodorus 2 , he is said to have been changed into a kid 
(eriphos) to save him from the wrath of Hera ; again, according 
to Ovid 3 , when the gods were led to Egypt to escape Typhon, 
Dionysus was turned into a goat; finally Arnobius 4 says that 
the worshippers of the god tore goats asunder. 

1 735 sqq. 2 in, 4. 3. 

3 Met. v, 329. * Adv. nationes, v, 19. 


But it must be pointed out that these allusions to his having 
a goat form are all from late writers. At Eleutherae and at 
Hermione he was worshipped as Melanaegis, " the Wearer of the 
black goat-skin," but with this point we shall deal fully later 
on. In the market-place at Phlius, the birthplace of Pratinas 
the satyric playwright, stood a bronze statue of a she-goat gilded 
almost all over. " The image," says Dr Frazer, " probably repre- 
sented the vine-god himself." But apart from the difficulty 
occasioned by the sex of the statue, the explanation given by 
Pausanias 1 is probably the more correct : " It was honoured 
by the Phliasians for the following reason. The constellation 
named the Goat always blights the vines at its rising and to 
avert its baleful influence they worship the bronze goat in the 
market-place and adorn it with gold." This is plainly a simple 
case of sympathetic magic. This view is corroborated by the 
occurrence in Greece of similar dedications of goats to gods 
other than Dionysus. Thus " the people of Cleonae 2 , like the 
Athenians, had suffered from the pestilence, and in obedience to 
an oracle from Delphi sacrificed a he-goat to the rising sun. 
So finding that the plague was stayed, they sent a bronze 
he-goat to Apollo." Pausanias 3 also relates how the people of 
Elyrus in Crete sent a bronze goat to" Delphi: "The goat is 
suckling the infants Phylacides and Philander, who according 
to the Elyrians were the children of Apollo by a nymph Acacallis, 
whom Apollo visited in the city of Tarrha." Other divinities 
are likewise closely associated with the he-goat. Thus Aphrodite 
Pandemus at Olympia was represented in a statue seated upon 
a bronze he-goat 4 and the same goddess was worshipped as 
Epitragia ("Seated on a He-goat") in one shrine at Athens. 

There is one clear case of the sacrifice of a he-goat to 
Dionysus, but on investigation this turns out not to have been 
the original form of offering, but a substitution for a human 
victim. At Potniae in Boeotia there was a temple of Dionysus 
Tragobolos ("Goat-shooter"). "Once when sacrificing to the 
god, flushed with wine, they grew so outrageous that they killed 
the priest of Dionysus. Pestilence fell upon them and from 

1 n, 13. 6. - Pans, x, 11. 5. 

3 x, 16. 5. 4 Paus. vi, 25. 1. 


Delphi word came to sacrifice a youth to Dionysus. But they 
say that not many years afterwards the god substituted a goat 
as a victim instead of the boy 1 ." 

Thus then the he-goat at Potniae was not his original 
victim. But it is easy to show that he had no monopoly of 
goat sacrifices. Such victims were certainly offered to other 
deities and heroes, not as substitutes for human victims, but as 
the offerings of a primitive time. The Lacedaemonians, accord- 
ing to Pausanias 2 , surnamed Hera "Goat-eating" (Aigophagos) 
and sacrificed goats to the goddess. " They say that Heracles 
founded the sanctuary and was the first to sacrifice goats. The 
reason why he sacrificed goats was because he had no other 
victims to offer." 

The worship of the hero-god Aesculapius, had been intro- 
duced from his great sanctuary at Epidaurus into the Cyrenaica 
and set' up at Balagrae. . There he was worshipped under the 
title of Physician. From this Cyrenian sanctuary was founded 
the one at Lebene in Crete. " The Cyrenians 3 differ from the 
Epidaurians in this, that whereas the Cyrenians sacrifice goats, 
it is against the Epidaurian custom to do so." Conversely, at 
Tithorea in Phocis, there was a shrine of Aesculapius 4 where 
they sacrificed to Mm all animals except goats. There was also 
a legend that Aesculapius, like the Cretan Zeus, had been 
suckled by a goat in the land of Epidauria 5 . 

The legend that Heracles offered goats to Hera, because he 
had nothing better, explains why we do not more frequently 
hear of such victims being offered to heroes or gods. Although 
goats were almost certainly constantly sacrificed, yet we naturally 
do not hear of them in connection with the more important 
festivals of gods and heroes, for more costly victims were offered 
on those occasions. 

The goat victim offered to Dionysus at Potniae was a sub- 
stitute for a youth, just as the she-goat sacrificed in later times 
to Artemis at Munychia in Attica was instead of a bear, which 
in its turn had almost certainly replaced a maiden, for the 
priest when sacrificing the she-goat uttered the significant 

1 Paus. ix. 8. 1. - in. 15. 9. 3 ib. n. 26. 9. 

4 ib. x. 32. 12. 5 ib. n. 26. 4. 

K. T. 


formula " This is my daughter." Therefore it cannot in face of 
these facts be maintained that when the cult of Dionysus came 
into Greece from Thrace the proper victim for the god was a 
goat. We have already seen that bulls and calves were the 
normal offerings, but there are a series of grim facts which point 
distinctly to human victims as in the case at Potniae. 

Though one phase of Dionysus had been introduced into 
Athens under the particular local title borne by him at 
Eleutherae, and had been attached in its new home to the 
festival of the Apaturia, the normal offering to the god was not 
a goat either at that festival or at the Great Dionysia. What 
was the true nature of the offerings made to the god in his 
primal and more universal cult ? It is in times of stress and 
anxiety that the true primitive character of a ritual comes 
boldly to the light. In B.C. 476 Themistocles, the greatest of 
Athenian statesmen, furnished the expenses of the chorus which 
performed the tragedy of Phrynichus at the great festival of 
Dionysus. Four years earlier on that awful night before Salamis, 
when men and women pra'yed as they had never prayed before 
to the gods for deliverance from slavery and death, Themistocles 
sacrificed to Dionysus not three he-goats, or three bulls, but 
three Persian youths. In doing this he was certainly reverting 
to what tradition taught was by far the most acceptable offering 
to that god. This beyond question was the practice in Thrace 
itself, the true home of the god. For the rending in pieces not 
merely of animals, but of human beings, in the worship of 
Dionysus in that region is manifest in the legend of the death of 
Orpheus. The frantic Thracian women as they were cele- 
brating the Bacchic orgies rent him limb from limb and his 
head was borne 

"Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore." 

The title " Cannibal " ('H/i^crr;??) under which Themistocles 
propitiated him on the eve of Salamis and the like one ('fl/iaSio?) 
which he bore in Chios and in Tenedos, where human victims 
were his regular tribute, indicate clearly that the wearing of a 
goat-skin of a particular colour was merely an accident and did 
not appertain to the essence of the god. 


Goat-skin Dresses. But the view just stated is strongly 
emphasised by the fact that Dionysus had no monopoly of the 
epithet Melanaegis, any more than he had of goat-skins in 
general. For example the Erinys is described as Melanaegis by 
Aeschylus 1 . Yet no one will contend that because the Erinyes 
play so prominent a part in the Eumenides, that play is a 
" winter-drama of the seasons." 

But Dionysus has just as little monopoly of goat-skin dresses 
in general as he has of those of a black colour. For example 
Zeus himself is regularly termed " Wearer of the goat-skin " 
(airyioxps) in Homer and is constantly represented with that 
attribute in works of art. Again, Athena wears as one of her 
special characteristics her goat-skin (aegis). Indeed, if the 
argument on which Dr Farnell has based his theory that 
Dionysus' was a Thracian or European goat-god were sound, we 
should have little difficulty from the facts just presented in 
turning the Olympian gods into a herd of goats; for the evidence 
in favour of Zeus, Apollo, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite and 
Aesculapius being goats, is in some cases far stronger than, in 
others just as strong as, that which can be urged for Dionysus. 

To the origin of such goat-skin garments we shall soon 
return. In addition to the epithet Melanaegis Dr Farnell finds 
his chief support for Dionysus the goat-god in the story of the 
combat 'between Xanthus the Boeotian and Melanthus the 
Messenian, identifying the god with Melanthus (Black man) 
and with the Minyan -\Jro\oet? of Orchomenus. We have 
shown the invalidity of his argument that Melanaegis was the 
primitive form under which Dionysus came into Greece. The 
evidence from the story of Melanthus and Xanthus is just as 
insubstantial as the phantom seen by the former. It is easy to 
turn any story or name, ancient or modern, into a nature myth. 
Thus Prof. Max Miiller himself was once well explained on 
this principle 2 . On the other hand there is every reason to 
believe in the substantial accuracy of the non-miraculous part of 

1 Theb. 699. 

2 Kottabos, vol. i, pp. 145-54, The Oxford Solar Myth. A contribution to 
Comparative Mythology. (Dedicated, without permission, to the Rev. G. W. 
Cox, M.A.) (By the late Dr R. F. Littledale.) 



the story of Xanthus and Melanthus. There were constant 
border wars between Boeotia and Athens in historical times, 
and it is more than probable that their relations were much the 
same in the earlier period, whilst the citing of the pedigree of 
Melanthus points to his being a real historical personage. Of 
course it is the contrast in colour indicated in the names of the 
combatants that has led Dr Farnell to take up his position. 
Yet there is no need to resort to mythologising, since history 
offers a simple explanation of these names. The ruling element 
in Boeotia, from at least B.C. 1000, was a people who had 
passed down from the Upper Balkan, and in classical times the 
Thebans were distinguished by their fair hair and great stature, 
their women for these two qualities being regarded as the 
handsomest in Greece. The Boeotians thus stood in contrast to 
the dark complexioned aboriginal race of Greece to which the 
Neleidae of Pylus, the family of Melanthus, belonged. 

The names Xanthus and Xanthias ("Fair Hair") were as well 
known in Greece as Pyrrhus ("Red-head"), whilst no less familiar 
were such names as Melanthus, or Melanthius (the unfaithful 
goat-herd of Odysseus). We may therefore safely reject the 
nature-myth explanation of the combat and regard it as em- 
bodying an actual border war. The miraculous appearance of 
the " Wearer of the black goat-skin " does not in the least 
invalidate the substantial truth of the story. If such super- 
natural adjuncts are sufficient grounds for rejecting the truth of 
historical events, then the battle of Antioch did not take place in 
A.D. 1098 and Aubrey de Vere, the great " earl of Genney," never 
lived, because " the night coming on in the chase of this battayle, 
and waxing dark, the Christians being four miles from Antioch, 
God willing the safety of the Christians, showed a white star or 
mullet of five points, on the Christian host, which to every 
man's sight did alight and arrest upon the standard of Aubrey 
de Vere, there shining excessively 1 ." Eight centuries have 
mouldered into shadow since de Vere and his night-foundered 
comrades believed that they saw this divine light. But who 
will venture to mythologise this story and see in the contrast 
between the bright glistering star and the murky night a 
1 Leland, Itin., vol. vi, pp. 37-8 (ed. n, 1744). 


struggle between the powers of light and darkness ? The five- 
point star became the badge of the great house of de Vere, 
of which in 1625 in reference to its famous earldom, the Chief 
Justice of England said, " No king in Christendom hath such a 
subject as Oxford." And well might he say so, for the " fighting 
Veres " had taken a foremost part in the making of England for 
more than 500 years. 

Finally, Dr Farnell identifies Dionysus Melanaegis with the 
^oXoet? of Orchomenus in Boeotia. Speaking of the persons 
named Psoloeis and Aeoleiae in Boeotia, Plutarch 1 writes : "The 
story is that Leucippe, Arsinoe, and Alcathoe, the daughters, of 
Minyas, went mad and longed for human flesh ; they cast lots to 
decide whose child should be taken, and the lot decided that 
Leucippe must give up her son Hippasus to be torn in pieces. 
The husbands of these women got the name Psoloeis because 
they wore filthy garments in consequence of their grief and 
mourning. Their wives were termed Aeoleiae, that is ' Baleful,' 
and to this day the Orchomenians apply the name to the women 
of that family. Each year at the festival of the Agrionia these 
women have to flee away and they are pursued by the priest of 
Dionysus, armed with a sword. It is lawful for him to slay the 
woman he catches, and in our own day Zoilus the priest slew 
one. But this brought about no good, for the priest sickened 
from some trifling sore and found a lingering death from 
gangrene, whilst the Orchomenians themselves, in consequence 
of public disasters, took away the priesthood from his family 
and now elect the best man in the whole community." 

Let us recall for a moment Dr Farnell's own words : " The 
true meaning of the primitive service was indicated partly by 
the legend concerning Dionysos MeXdvaiyis, and the duel 
between Melanthos and Xanthos, in which Black-man killed 
Fair-man, partly by the story of the Minyan i/ro\6et<? of Orcho- 
menos, who had to do with a ritual in which the young god was 
killed, partly by the discovery by Mr R. M. Dawkins of a 
Dionysiac Mummers' play in modern Thrace, in which goat- 

1 Quaest. Graec. 299 E, F. The MSS. read TOI)S ptv avdpas avru>t> Sv<rfi/j.a.Toiji>- 
Tuv...\f/o\6eis, r&s AtoXe/as OiWoXdas. I have followed Beiske's reading 5v<r/ua- 
TOWTO.S... auras 5 At'oXe/aj olov 'OXoas. 


men appeared and a goat-man was slain and lamented." But it 
will be noticed that the name Psoloeis (" Sooty ") was not given 
either to the child Hippasus, who was slain by his mother 
Leucippe and her sisters, nor yet to the women of that family. 
Plutarch only states that the name Aeoleiae was still applied to 
the women of the house of Minyas, but makes no such assertion 
about the application of the term Psoloeis to the males of that 

Now Dr FarnelFs argument based on Melanaegis and 
Melanthus depends upon the assumption that in each case we have 
a personage "Black-man " killing " Fair-man." But the Psoloeis, 
the " Sooty " ones, did not kill either the boy Hippasus, nor did 
they kill the Aeoleiae in historical times, nor were they them- 
selves killed. Accordingly they cannot be compared with either 
Melanaegis or Melanthus or the goat-men who kill a goat-man 
in the Thracian Mummery. Nor is there the slightest trace of 
any connection between the Psoloeis and the goat. Further- 
more Dr Farnell ignores the sex of the victims at the Agrionia 
in later times. The women of the house of Minyas cannot 
be paralleled offhand with a boy representing the young god. 

The story undoubtedly points to human sacrifices as part of 
the rites of Dionysus at Orchomenus, the boy corresponding 
probably to the youth once sacrificed to Dionysus Tragobolus at 
Potniae, another Boeotian town. But the Aeoleiae represent a 
different type of sacrifice, possibly the provision of a wife for the 

(5) Dr Farnell holds that " the actors wore the black goat- 
skin of their god," and that " their mimetic dance was solemn, 
sad, always tragic, probably originally a winter rite." But there 
is no more evidence for his description of the early Dionysiac 
dance than there is for his European goat-god. Half a century 
before the date at which Dr Farnell supposes that the worship 
of Dionysus Melanaegis had been introduced into Athens, Arion, 
who had given its full shape to the dithyramb performed by 
his chorus at Corinth in honour of Dionysus, had introduced in his 
songs " Satyrs speaking in metre " (p. 5). But we have not the 
slightest reason for supposing that their utterances and dances 
were uniformly sad and grave any more than are those of the 


actors in the modern Thracian Mummery. Though the latter 
contains the slaying of a man, it is far from being all grave, 
as it has a very large element of indecent buffoonery. But the 
ancients themselves did not consider the Satyric drama at all 
grave or sad, but gave it the name of "Sportive Tragedy " (p. 52), 
because it was regarded by them as partly tragic, partly ludicrous, 
like the modern mummeries in Thrace and Northern Greece. 

Dr Farnell holds that the Satyrs were " goat-men " and that 
they wore the goat-skin in honour of their god. That the 
Satyrs wore goat-skins there can be no doubt, for we have the 
evidence of Euripides in the Cyclops^- itself, his own Satyric 
drama. This passage will show whether Dr Farnell is right in 
his assumption that the goat-skins are the sacred vestments 
worn in a solemn sad ritual of a "god of the black goat-skin." 
The chorus of Satyrs sings: "O dear one, O dear Bacchic god, 
whither roaming alone art thou tossing thy fair locks ? But I, 
thy servant, am the serf of the one-eyed Cyclops wandering as a 
slave with this miserable garment of a he-goat's skin, bereft of 
thy loving care." But far from these lines indicating that the 
goat-skin was a peculiarly sacred vestment and an important 
part of the ritual, they clearly prove that it was simply regarded 
as the meanest form of apparel that could be worn by a slave. 
In fact it is nothing more than the goat-skin or sheep-skin 
cloak (baite, sisura), worn by country people and shepherds in 
Greece, not only in classical times but down to the present day. 
This gives us the true explanation of a line from a Satyric play 
of Aeschylus 2 , in which one of the chorus is addressed as a 
he-goat. The speaker simply makes a jesting allusion to the 
skin of that animal which the other wears as his dress, like the 
Satyrs in the Cyclops. This too gives both a true and simple 
explanation of the goat-skins seen on the loins of Satyrs in 

1 74 81 : w (f>i\os, u <f>i\f Bcucx e ' e > ""* oloiro\Cov 

a.vda.v x a <- Ta -" (reteis ; 
eyu 5' 6 abs irpoiroXos 

rip fj.ovotpKTq., SoOXos 
crtV T$8e rpdyov x^^v 
eras X W P' S (f>i\ias. 
2 Fr. 207 (Nauck) : rpdyos ytvewv apa Treptfijcrets <rv ye. 


later representations who are furnished not with goats', but 
with horses' tails (p. 72). 

Thus the wearing of the goat-skin by the chorus of Satyrs in 
what is admittedly the Dionysiac element in dramatic per- 
formances was in no wise a piece of ritual and still less was it 
worn by his votaries in special honour of a goat-god, of whose 
existence there is no proof. 

Dr Farnell's hypothesis depends entirely on the wearing 
of goat-skins by the Satyrs, and as he makes not only the names 
tragoedia and tragic arise from the latter, but also Attic Tragedy 
itself, he thus postulates that they played the most prominent 
part in the beginnings of Tragedy in Attica. If that is so 
we ought (1) to find evidence for them in Attica before they 
were in Peloponnesus, and (2) to find them associated closely 
with Thespis. But the facts point all the other way. Arion, 
the composer of the great dithyramb in honour of Dionysus, 
was employing Satyrs by B.C. 600, whilst to Pratinas of Phlius 
are ascribed the first composition of regular Satyric dramas and 
their introduction into Athens at a comparatively late date in 
the sixth century B.C., when he probably also introduced the 
Satyric mask (Fig. 10). It must therefore be admitted that 
the Satyrs played an important part in the first beginnings of 
Tragedy in Peloponnesus 1 before Thespis had appeared and long 
before Pratinas of Phlius. As the Satyric "goat-men," from 
whom Dr Farnell derives tragoedia and tragic, had taken so 
prominent a place in the development of Tragedy in Pelopon- 
nesus before there is any evidence for them in Attica, it follows 
that if tragoedia and tragic are derived from them, these terms 
were not invented for the first time in Attica, but rather in 
Peloponnesus and thence introduced into Attica. Moreover no 
ancient writer even hints that Thespis wrote Satyric dramas, 
and there is no evidence that he composed plays other than 
those on heroic subjects in his early period, though he may 

1 This is quite in keeping with the earliest mention of the Satyrs, that in a 
fragment of Hesiod preserved by Strabo, p. 405, 13 (Didot), where they seem 
connected with Argolis : 

^ wv ovpfiai vvfjupai Qea.1 [t\eyvovro, 
KO.I ytvos ovriSavuv ^arvpuv Kal afj.r)xavoepy>v 
re 0eol <f>i\OTraiy/j.oi>es, 




have combined Dionysiac and heroic themes in his Pentheus, 
if that was really a genuine work of his. This view gains 
considerable confirmation from his method of disguising his 
face. At first he coated it with white lead, then he covered it 
with purslane, and finally he used a plain linen mask (p. 60). 
Now as the next step in the development of masks was that 
made by Choerilus, the great writer of Satyric dramas, it is 
probable that the improvements made by Choerilus were for 
Satyric masks. But as Thespis at first used white lead, then 
purslane, and finally a mask of unpainted linen, his " make-up " 
was very ill adapted for representing Dionysus, Silenus or 
Satyrs. On the other hand the pale white colour was well 
suited for the representation of heroes, whose ghosts might be 
supposed to appear, like that of Darius in the Persae. It is 

Fio. 10. Masks of Dionysus, Satyr and Silenus. 
(From a terra cotta in British Museum.) 

easy to prove from Aristophanes 1 that to the ordinary Athenian 
the proper colour to use in the representation of the face of one 
who had come back from beyond the tomb was white lead. 

The young man asks : " Is this a baboon covered with white 
lead, or an old woman that has risen up from the dead ? " It is 
quite clear that the fit colour for a revenant's face was white, 
and this Thespis could effect by his use of white lead and by his 
unpainted linen masks. On the other hand to have represented 
Dionysus with the pallor of death would have shocked his 

IV. Some years ago the present writer explained the aegis 
and gorgoneion of Athena as nothing more recondite than the 

1 Eccl. 1072 : irbrepov TriOrjKos dcairXeojj \J/i/j.v0iov, 

17 ypavs dvfffTrjKvia irapa Tuiv ir\ei6vwv ; 


primitive goat-skin covering used in ancient Athens as the 
ordinary dress. /A slit was made in the back of the skin through 
which the wearer's head was put, and the grinning skin of the 
animal's face hung down on the breast of the wearer. Herodotus 1 
compared the goat-skin dresses (aegides) of the Libyan women 
in his own day to the aegis of Athena, the only difference being 
that whilst the former had leathern fringes, that of the goddess 
had one of snakes. But these snakes and the Gorgon's head 
were but later additions, for in the Iliad 2 she wears an aegis 
with an ordinary fringe, and " a grim head of a beast upon it." 
The addition of the fringe of snakes and the development of the 
skin of the goat's head into the gorgoneion came much later. 
And though in the course of time the Athenian women wove 
and embroidered beautiful robes for themselves and for their 
goddess, the primaeval goat-skin still remained as part of the 
dress of Athena. 

In like fashion the aegis of Zeus has nothing cryptic about it. 
It was the skin of the goat Amalthea, which according to the 
myth had suckled the child Zeus. Very ungratefully, when he 
grew up he slew his foster-mother and made her skin into his 
covering, the ancient goat-skin garment of Crete. Such aegides 
were still worn by the Lycians serving in the host of Xerxes, 
who according to Herodotus were emigrants from Crete. The 
baite of the Greek shepherds was only the continuation of the 
skin garments of the aborigines of Greece. Jason 3 is repre- 
sented as wearing a panther-skin when he came down from 
Pelion to claim his heritage from Pelias, but he was not a 
panther-god, for we are told that the skin was to protect him 
from the pelting rains. In the time of Pausanias (A.D. 180) the 
Arcadians still wore the skins of wolves and bears, and the poor 
people in Phocis and Euboea regularly used pig-skins. 

We are now in a position to explain the " Song of the 
Goats" and the " Dance of the Goats." In view of the evidence 
cited above, it will be admitted that goat-skins had been worn 
in Greece as the commonest and cheapest form of dress, 
centuries before the introduction of Dionysus Eleuthereus into 
Athens, whether that was about B.C. 550, as Dr Farnell holds, 

1 iv, 189. 2 v, 738 sqq. etc. 3 Find. Pyth. iv, 81. 


or far earlier, as is shown by its attachment to the Apaturia and 
by the statement that it took place in the regal period of 
Athens, long before Cleisthenes had brought the cult of Bacchus 
into Sicyon. 

Let us now return to the terms tragoedia and tragic. In all y 
kinds of ritual and mummery ancient costumes are rigorously 
retained. No better examples are needed for Greece than the 
aegis of Athena just mentioned or for modern times than eccle- 
siastical vestments, robes of state, academic costumes and legal 
gowns and wigs. Just as the Bacchants wore fox-skins and fawn- 
skins, the typical Thracian dress, which survived till recently in 
the modern Thracian play, and as the Satyrs wore the common 
goat-skin garb, now used solely in the dress of the mummers in 
Thrace and North Greece, doubtless because of its cheapness, so ^ 
the men who danced solemnly round the tomb of Adrastus, with 
no element of the grossness of the Satyric chorus, wore the 
dress of ancient days in this ritual performance. Accordingly, 
when Herodotus calls such a chorus a goat chorus, he is not 
applying in an anachronistic fashion the nomenclature of his 
own day to earlier times. At Sicyon, by that date, woven 
woollen garments were in common use, but for sacred purposes "' 
the immemorial garb of the goat-skin had to be donned. 

V. Another explanation is also possible, though not so 
probable. As the dithyramb sung by the cyclic chorus in honour 
of Dionysus was called " ox-driving," probably because it ac- 
companied the sacrificial bull, so the chorus which danced at 
the tomb of Adrastus may have led along a goat to be offered. 
There is just as much evidence for goats being offered to heroes 
as to Dionysus. The people of Balagrae continued so to sacrifice 
to Aesculapius, a hero who only became a god at a comparatively 
late date. We saw that the sacrifice of goats to Hera was 
considered exceptional, and Pausanias explains it by the poverty 
of the founder of the sacrifice. We hear almost nothing of the 
offerings made at the tombs of ordinary heroes and heroines, 
and we must therefore not argue from such silence that goats 
were not regularly sacrificed to them. Of course in more im- 
portant shrines and in wealthy communities, costlier victims 
would be offered. It may therefore be that the term tragikos 


was applied both to the goat-skin dresses of the chorus and to 
the victim led to the tomb. 

From the foregoing survey of the facts we may conclude 
(1) Dionysus was not a goat-god when he entered Greece, 
but, if an animal god, rather a bull-god; (2) that the name 
Melanaegis was given to him at Eleutherae because of a local 
incident, and did not refer to the essence of the god, but only to 
an accidental attribute ; (3) that when the worship of Dionysus 
Melanaegis was brought into Athens, it was an obscene cult ; 
(4) that it was brought into Athens in the regal period ; (5) 
that it was then attached to the ancient Ionic festival of the 
Apaturia, of which tragic performances at no time were part, in 
which Dionysus held a very inferior position, and in which the 
normal sacrifice was a sheep and not a goat ; (6) that the cult of 
Dionysus Melanaegis is thus in no wise connected with the origin 
of Tragedy ; (7) that the Satyrs wore goat-skins not in honour 
of that god, but because it was the ordinary dress in primitive 
days, and so continued amongst shepherds and other peasants 
into historical times ; (8) that in Peloponnesus, as well as else- 
where in Greece, and in Thrace and Crete, goat-skins were the 
ordinary dress of the aborigines ; (9) that for this reason the 
chorus which celebrated the ancient heroes, such as Adrastus, 
wore the primaeval dress of goat-skin and was therefore fitly 
termed a goat chorus', (10) that Herodotus is therefore not 
guilty of an anachronism when he applies the term tragic to 
the chorus which performed a mimetic dance at the grave of 
Adrastus in Sicyon as early as B.C. 600; (11) that, since it was 
from this rude chorus that Tragedy proper developed, that art 
was rightly described as the goat-song; (12) that as such 
tragedies were being performed in Peloponnesus and in Athens 
before the establishment of the Great Dionysia in B.C. 535, the 
term tragedy which was always kept distinct from the term 
Satyric drama was in full use in Peloponnesus and Athens 
before the institution of the tragic contests in B.C. 535 ; (13) 
that Satyrs had been employed in Peloponnesus since the time 
of Arion, and that Pratinas of Phlius was the first to compose 
regular Satyric dramas and to introduce them into Athens 
in the last quarter of the sixth century B.C. ; (14) that, even 


if Dr Farnell were right in deriving the terms tragoedia and 
tragic from the Satyrs dressed in goat-skins, since there is 
evidence for the use of Satyrs in Peloponnesus from B.C. 600, 
and as Thespis did not write Satyric dramas, the terms tragoedia 
and tragic as well as the actual art itself arose rather in 
Peloponnesus than in Attica; (15) that Tragedy arose from the 
worship of the dead, and not from that of Dionysus; (16) that 
as Dionysus himself had almost certainly once been only a 
Thracian hero, even if it were true that Tragedy had risen 
from his cult, its real ultimate origin would still be in the 
worship of the dead 1 ; and (17) that dramatic representations 
in honour of gods, such as those at Eleusis, were simply an 
extension of the method of propitiating dead ancestors to secure 
the favour of the great divinities. 

1 As the oracles of Amphiaraus and Trophonius at Oropus and Lebadea 
respectively were certainly shrines of heroes (Paus. i, 34. 5 ; ix, 39. 5 14), it is 
probable that the oracle of Dionysus amongst the Bessi, his most ancient cult- 
centre, had a like origin. 



All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players. 

SHAKESPEARE, As You Like It, n, 7. 

WE have seen in an earlier section that the Christian 
Mysteries and Miracle plays of the Middle Ages sprang from 
the same psychological standpoint as that from which Greek 
Tragedy appeared to have arisen. If we pass to Asia, we shall 
meet amongst various peoples widely different in race dramatic 
performances, which without doubt must be regarded as in- 
digenous and most certainly as completely independent of all 
influence from the Greek or other European drama. If it should 
turn out that all these native mimetic performances have 
originated in the same principle as that which has given birth 
to the ancient Greek and mediaeval Christian dramas, we shall 
have greatly corroborated our argument that Greek Tragedy 
did not arise merely in the cult of a particular deity, but rather 
from beliefs respecting the dead as widespread as the human 
race itself. 

Let us first turn to Hindustan and to the Sanscrit literature 
of its Aryan conquerors. 

The Ramayana. The oldest Hindu drama the Ramayana 
celebrates the life, exploits and sufferings of Rama, son of 
Dasaratha, who reigned in Ayodhya (Oude), and it includes the 
loves . of Rama and his wife Sita, the rape of the latter by 
Ravana, the demon-king of Ceylon, the overthrow of Ravana by 
Rama, the subsequent sorrows of the hero and his wife, the 
death of Sita, and her husband's translation into heaven. 


Since Rama was regarded as an incarnation of Vishnu, and 
since a verse in the introduction of the work declares that 
" he who reads and repeats this holy life-giving Ramayana is 
liberated from all his sins and exalted with all his posterity 
to the highest heaven," it is the keeping in remembrance of the 
hero-god, his exploits and his sufferings, that is the essential 
element in this great drama. 

The Sacred Plays of Tibet and Mongolia. No less 
evident is the same root-doctrine in the religious Mystery plays 
performed by the Lamas of Tibet and Mongolia. They repre- 
sent scenes in the life of Buddha, of incarnations of Buddha, or 
of Buddhist saints, who were sorely beset and tormented by 
devils, but in the end prevailed over evil. It would appear 
however that beyond doubt Buddhism has simply incorporated 
mimetic dances of the Shamanistic ancestor-worship, which it 
has nominally supplanted. 

The ritualistic form of Buddhism, found in Tibet, Mongolia, 
and China, commonly termed Lamaism, has incorporated a very 
large element of the primitive. rites of many Shamanistic tribes. 
The Buddhist missionaries in order to make conversion more 
easy, adopted the gods and rites of their proselytes under new 
names or with slight modifications, just as was done by the 
early Christians who evangelised various parts of Europe. 

One of these Tibetan Mysteries called The Dance of the Red 
Tiger-Devil is said by Colonel Waddell 1 to have originated in a 
Shamanistic exorcism of evil spirits, with perhaps a human 
sacrifice in earlier times, a feature which can be easily paralleled 
from Greek legend, and even from Greek history itself, and 
which plays an important part in more than one Greek tragedy. 
In its modern form the motive is the assassination of a great 
enemy of Lamaism by a Lama disguised as a Shamanist dancer, 
thus holding up for reverence the triumph of the holy man over 
the sinner. 

The Lamas reserve to themselves the exclusive right of 
acting in the Mystery Play 2 with its manifestation of the gods 
and demons by awe-inspiring masks and the like, whilst they 

1 The Buddhism of Tibet, pp. 516 sqq. 

2 Waddell, op. cit., p. 540. 


relegate to lay actors the sacred dramas illustrating the former 
births of Buddha and other saints, the Jatakas. The most 
popular of all the dramas played by the lay actors and actresses 
are the Visvantara (Vesantara) Jataka, or the great Birth of 
Buddha, and the indigenous drama of Nan-sa, or the Brilliant 
Light. But they also at times play among other things the 
Sudhana Jataka, the Marriage of king Sron Tsan Gampo, the 
Indian king (?) Amoghasiddha, and the fiendess Do-ba-zan-mo. 

An admirable description of the great drama performed 
by the Lamas of Ladak is given by Mr E. F. Knight 1 . It was 
on the 16th of June that Knight saw the grand mystery. 
" We were awoken at an early hour to a realisation of 
where we were by the sounding of the priestly shawms in the 
different quarters of the great monastery. After breakfast we 
repaired with the Naib Wazir, the Treasurer, and other notables 
to the gallery overlooking the quadrangle, where seats had been 
prepared for us. The jovial Treasurer, finding that I appreciated 
the national beverage, produced at intervals flowing bowls of 
chung to cheer us as we gazed at the successive whirling troops 
of devils and monsters that passed before us. 

" It is difficult to give an account of the ever-changing and 
very interesting mummery which was carried on for the whole 
of this long summer's day a bewildering phantasmagoria of 
strange sights, a din of unearthly music, that almost caused the 
reason to waver, and make one believe that one was indeed 
in the magic realm represented by the actors, a dreadful world 
affording but dismal prospects, being even as these Buddhists 
regard this present existence of ours, and of which, if it were 
thus, one would indeed be well quit. For the principal motive 
of this mystery play appeared to be the lesson that the helpless, 
naked soul of a man has its being in the midst of a vast and 
obscure space full of malignant demons the earth, the air, the 
water, crowded with them perpetually seeking to destroy him, 
harassing him with tortures and terrors ; and that against this 
infinite oppression of the powers of evil he can of himself do 
nothing, but that occasionally the exorcisms or prayers of some 

1 Where Three Empires Meet, pp. 206 sqq. ; Waddell, The Buddhism of Tibet, 
p. 522. 


good Lama or incarnation may come to his assistance and shield 
him, and even then only after fierce and doubtful contests 
between the saint and the devils. And only for a time, too, can 
this relief from persecution endure, for all the exorcisms of all 
the saints are of little avail to keep back these advancing hordes. 
The shrieking demons must soon close in upon the soul again. 
Such is the gloomy prospect of human existence as depicted by 
the Tibetan Lamas. The extraordinary resemblance between 
much of the pageantry and forms of Tibetan Buddhism and 
those of the Church of Rome has been observed by all travellers 
in these regions. The Lamas who represented the saints in 
this mummery, had the appearance of early Christian bishops ; 
they wore mitres and copes and carried pastoral crooks ; they 
swung censers of incense as they walked in procession slowly 
chanting. Little bells were rung at intervals during the cere- 
mony ; some of the chanting was quite Gregorian. There was 
the partaking of a sort of sacrament; there was a dipping of 
fingers in bowls of holy water; the shaven monks, who were 
looking on, clad almost exactly like some of the friars in Italy, 
told their beads on their rosaries, occasionally bowed their heads 
and laid their hands across their breasts ; and there was much 
else besides that was startlingly similar to things that one has 
seen and heard in Europe. I will only attempt a description of 
some of the principal features of this two days complicated 
ceremony, to rehearse for which is one of the chief occupations 
throughout the year. Some of the sacred dances have intricate 
figures and gesticulations, and must need a great deal of pre- 
paration. The musical instruments employed by the Lama 
orchestra on this occasion included shawms and other huge 
brazen wind instruments, surnais, cymbals, gongs, tambourines, 
and rattles made of human bones. The many-coloured and 
grotesquely-designed robes worn by the mummers were of 
beautiful China silk, while the masks exhibited great powers of 
horrible invention on the part of their makers. 

" The gongs and shawms sounded and the mummery com- 
menced. First came some priests with mitres on their heads, 
clad in rich robes, who swung censers, filling the courtyard with 
the odour of incense. After a stately dance to slow music these 
R. T. 7 


went out ; and then entered, with wild antics, figures in yellow 
robes and peaked hoods, looking something like victims destined 
for an auto dafe', flames and effigies of human skulls were on 
their breasts and other portions of their raiment. As their 
hoods fell back, hideous features, as of leering satyrs, were 
disclosed. Then the music became fast and furious, and troop 
after troop of different masks rushed on, some beating wooden 
tambourines, others swelling the din with rattles and bells. All 
of these masks were horrible, and the malice of infernal beings 
was well expressed on some of them. As they danced to the 
wild music with strange steps and gestures, they howled in 
savage chorus. These, I believe, were intended to represent 
some of the ugly forms that meet the dead man's soul in space, 
while it is winging its way from one sphere to the next. 

"The loud music suddenly ceased, and all the demons 
scampered off, shrieking, as if in fear, for a holy thing was 
approaching. To solemn chanting, low music, and swinging of 
censers, a stately procession came through the porch of the 
temple, and slowly descended the steps. Under a canopy borne 
by attendants walked a tall form in beautiful silk robes, wearing 
a large mask representing a benign and peaceful face. As he 
advanced men and boys, dressed as abbots and acolytes of the 
Church of Rome, prostrated themselves before him, and adored 
him with intoning and pleasing chanting. He was followed by 
six other masks who were treated with similar respect. These 
seven deified beings drew themselves in a line on one side of 
the quadrangle, and received the adoration of several processions 
of masked figures, some of abbots, and others beast-headed, or 
having the faces of devils. 'These seven masks,' said the 
Treasurer to us, ' are representations of the Dalai Lama of Lassa 
and his previous incarnations. They are being worshipped, as 
you see, by Lamas, kings, spirits and others.' But a few minutes 
later the steward of the gompa came up to us and explained 
that these were intended for the incarnations of Buddha, and 
not of the Dalai Lama ; whereupon he and that other erudite 
theologian, the Treasurer, discussed the point at some length 
in their native tongue." 

Amongst the Buriats, an important tribe of Mongolia, the 


Mystery play or Tsam, as they term it, is of a much simpler 
character and is again the triumph of good over evil spirits. 
The Buriats, who number over two hundred thousand souls, 
live on the south-eastern side of Lake Baikal chiefly around 
Selenginsk. Only a few thousand still remain pagans. The 
chief Datsan (Lamaserai or monastery) of the Buriats is at 
Gelung Nor (Lake of Priests), a lake of about fourteen miles 
long separated from the south-eastern end of Lake Baikal by 
the Khamar Daban range. Here is a great temple in the 
Chinese style 1 . 

" Down in a space railed off in the front of the temple is to 
be seen a vast crowd. Thousands of Buriats have come from 
great distances to witness the scene. As the audience waits 
expectantly the noise of many musical 
instruments is heard Suddenly several 
wild figures, in the strangest of masks, 
rush upon the scene. Some wear death's- 
head masks, or a combination of Father 
Christmas and Neptune, another a stag's 
head and antlers, and yet others the heads 
of beasts horned and not horned that 
would puzzle even the President of the 
Zoological Society. Grinning demons p IG> n. 

mingle in the crowd of hideous figures, one Arcliaic Greek Scarab, 
wearing a great open-mouthed devil 

mask, with little flags fluttering, and several other actors, 
who are maskless, having on their heads great hats with 
gilded filagree work. The spectator, dazzled by the brilliancy 
of the scene and dazed by the din of the musical instruments, 
at length makes out persons without masks and armed with 
daggers, who appear to typify the good spirits who have 
vanquished the death's-heads and the miscellaneous demons 
and monsters of evil." 

The strange masks worn by some of the performers stag's 

head and antlers, and others in the shapes of the heads of beasts, 

horned and not horned recall the animal masks worn by 

personages seen on various objects, such as engraved gems 

1 C. H. Hawes, In the Uttermost East, pp. 446 sqq.; Waddell, op. cit., p. 43. 



(Fig. 11) and frescoes, belonging to the Bronze Age of Greece, 
and also the beast costumes worn in the Bear dance at Brauron 
and similar mimetic ceremonies of Greece. As the more primi- 
tive forms of masks survive in the Buddhist dramas, so the 
strange and fearsome forms the " Horse-Cocks " and " Goat- 
Stags " introduced by Aeschylus in some of his tragedies may 
well be survivals from the elder days of Greece. 

We have seen above good reason for believing that the 
Buddhist dramas enacted by the Lamas in Tibet and Mongolia 
are little else than adaptations of primitive or mimetic dances, 
once performed as part of their religious rites in the days before 
Buddhism by the pagan shamans, of whom the Lamas are the 
living representatives. If in the primitive drama of another 
non- Aryan Asiatic race it should turn out that the leader of a 
company of actors is always a shaman, the view given above 
respecting the origin of the Lamas and their sacred plays will 
be substantially confirmed. In south-eastern Asia the Malays 
will at once furnish the evidence required. 

The Malay Drama. In the primitive drama of the Malay 
Peninsula, in spite of the influence of Hinduism and Muham- 
madanism, there are not wanting traces of its close connection 
with the spirits of the dead. 

''The most important of the ceremonies," says Mr W. W. 
Skeat 1 , " which relate to the Malay theatre is that of inaugur- 
ating or ' opening ' (as it is called) a site for the performance." 
Citing Mr Hugh Clifford, he says that the space railed in is 
called a Panggong. 

" Before the play begins, a ceremony called Btika Panggong, 
which has for its object the invocation and propitiation of 
certain spirits, is gone through 

" The ceremony, which is a curious one, is performed in the 
following manner: The company having entered the shed and 
taken their seats, a brazier is placed in front of the Pdwang or 
Medicine-Man, who is also the head of the theatrical troop. In 
this brazier precious woods and spices are burned, and, while 
the incense ascends, the Pdwang intones the following incanta- 

1 Malay Magic, 504 sqq. 


tion, the other members of the troop repeating each sentence in 
chorus as he concludes it. 

" ' Peace be unto Thee, whose mother is from the earth, and 
whose father has ascended to the Heavens ! Smite not the 
male and female actors, and the old and young buffoons with 
Thy cruelty, nor yet with the curse of poverty ! Oh, do not 
threaten with punishment the members of this company, for I 
come not hither to vie with thee in wisdom or skill or talent : 
not such is my desire in coming hither. If I come unto this 
place, I do so placing my faith in all the people, my masters 
who own this village. Therefore suffer not any one to oppress, 
or envy, or do a mischief unto all the body of male and female 
actors, together with the young and old buffoons, and the 
minstrels and bridegroom, together with Sri GSmuroh, Sri 
Berdengong. Oh, suffer them not to be hurt or destroyed, 
injured, or maimed ; let not the male or female actors be con- 
tused or battered, and let them not be injured or maimed; let 
them not be afflicted with headache, nor with undue physical 
heat, nor yet with throbbing pains or with shooting aches. Oh, 
let them not be injured by collisions like unto ships, the bows 
of which are telescoped, nor afflicted with excessive voiding. 
Suffer them not to vomit freely, nor to be overcome by heavy 
weariness or fatigue or weakness. I ask that Thou wilt suffer 
them to be as they have been accustomed to be in former times, 
and to feel cool and fresh like unto the snake, the chinta-mani 
(a short snake of a yellow colour, the presence of which is lucky). 

" Peace be unto Thee, Oh Black Awang (a very common man's 
name), who art King of the Earth ! Be not startled nor de- 
ranged, and be not offended, for Thou are wont to wander in 
the veins of the ground, and to take Thy rest in the portals of 
the Earth. I come not hither to vie with Thee in wisdom, for I 
only place my trust in Thee, and would surrender myself wholly 
into Thy hands ; and I beg thee to retire but three paces from 
the four corners of our shed,, and that Thou shalt refrain from 
wandering hither and thither, for under Thy care I place the 
male and female actors, and all the buffoons, both young and 
old, together with all the musicians and the bridegrooms. I 
place them under Thy care, and do not oppress or envy them, 


neither suffer evil to befall them, do not strike against them as 
Thou passest by...'." A similar ceremony was witnessed by 
Skeat. A tray with the usual brazier of incense and small 
bowls of rice variously prepared was then brought in. 

All this looks as if the worship of the spirits of the dead may 
have once been the chief motive in such performances, a view 
strongly supported by the fact that the leader of such companies 
of actors is always a medicine man. This circumstance also con- 
firms the belief that the Tibetan Buddhistic dramas of to-day and 
the Lamas who perform them, are but the modern representatives 
of old pagan mimetic dances and of the shamans who enacted 
them for religious or magical purposes. If we could but find 
some primitive people of Asia whose religious beliefs and 
practices are still almost untouched by influences from without, 
whether Buddhist, Hinduist, or Muhammadan, and that this 
folk have dramatic performances of a most primitive kind, if it 
should furthermore turn out that such plays, if they can be 
termed such, are performed by the shaman for purely religious 
objects, and not for amusement as is the case with the Malay 
dramas, we might obtain very important evidence respecting 
the origin, not merely of the Buddhistic and Malay drama, but 
even of that of Greece itself. 

The Drama of the Veddas of Ceylon. In one of the 
most primitive races of mankind which still survive the Veddas 
of Ceylon we can fortunately find the evidence of which we 
are in search. The recent investigations of my friends, Dr and 
Mrs Seligmann, have secured, before it was too late, much more 
accurate and precise information respecting these most inter- 
esting and important people than was hitherto available. Their 
complete results will shortly be published in a separate volume, 
but meantime they have generously placed at my disposal some 
fruits of their most valuable observations as well as the photo- 
graph reproduced (Fig. 12). 

The Veddas, who still remain in a wild state, are but very 
few in number. These live practically by hunting, and scarcely 
till the ground at all except for growing yams. It is therefore 
obvious that a plentiful supply of game and success in capturing 
it and also good crops of yams are the chief objects of the hopes 


and prayers of this simple folk. Naturally their religious 
ceremonies bear directly upon the all-important question of 
a supply of food. In order to secure these ends they have cere- 
monies in which they invoke the aid of the spirits of departed 
members of their race, renowned in their day and generation for 
their skill and success in the chase and in the growing of yams. 
Such an honoured spirit is termed a Yaka, and the most 
prominent amongst these Yaku is Kande Yaka, who was a 
mighty hunter. Accordingly when it is desired to slay a deer, 
they seek the aid of Kande Yaka, and this is done by a most 

FIG. 12. A Vedda drama : ' How Kande Yaka killed the Deer.' 

primitive dramatic performance How Kande Yaka killed the 
deer. I here give in Dr Seligmann's own words the account of 
this remarkable ceremony. 

The Kirikoraha at Bendiagalge. " The Kirikoraha was 
danced at Bendiagalge after a fine buck had been killed, before 
taking part in which all the men went to the stream and 
bathed. A tripod, called muk-kaliya, was made by binding 
three sticks together on which an open earthen pot (kirikoraha) 
was placed and the aude was laid upon it. 

" Some rice with cocoa-nut and chillies had previously been 


cooked at the cave, together with certain portions of the deer 
the flesh from the head, sternum and front of the ribs and all 
were brought down to the dancing plot in the talawa (plain). 
This food formed the aduk, and the adukudenawa, or ' offering of 
the food,' was performed before the dance began. The shaman, 
Randu Waniya, squatted in front of the food, and with hands 
together, repeated a charm or vadinau to Kande and Belinde 
Yaku. This lasted nearly ten minutes and was full of repe- 
titions. It was performed in gratitude for all deer and sambur, 
but not for birds, and in it the Yaku were invited to take food, 
which was left for them for a short while and was afterwards 
eaten by the Veddas themselves. 

" The shaman took a cocoa-nut and the aude and held them 
to his head and salaamed, while Poromala smeared some bees- 
wax on a stick and afterwards censed the aude : at the same 
time the invocation to Kande was repeated. The stick was so 
held that the smoke might touch the aude and in this way 
Kande. Yaka would smell it and be pleased. 

" This appeared to be one of many incidents pointing to the 
fact that when Yaku are invoked, they first come to their 
special properties (Kande always to an aude, other Yaku to 
leaves, swords, and various articles), and from these enter the 
person of the shaman. All sang the invocation and the shaman 
danced round the tripod, holding the aude and cocoa-nut 
together in both hands and waving them rhythmically, as he 
performed the orthodox Vedda step, i.e. one pace with each 
foot, each followed by a couple of pats on the ground with the 
ball of the foot, every two steps being followed by a half turn 
of the body to the accompaniment of sounds produced by those 
who were not dancing beating their sides. After a short 
time the shaman showed signs of becoming possessed. He 
began to shiver and to shake his head, and with the aude in 
his right hand he struck the cocoa-nut in his left and broke it 
in halves, letting the milk fall into the kirikoraha, and at this 
time he became possessed by Belinde Yaka. The way in 
which the nut split was prophetic : if a clear break was made, 
the animal to be promised later would be a female, if however 
the edges were jagged, a male would be shot. Then with half 


the nut in each hand, the shaman came to each of us in turn 
and placing his arms on our shoulders, in the hoarse gasping 
voice of the Yaka, promised us good hunting and protection from 
wild animals. 

" All sang the incantation again and Randu Waniya con- 
tinued to dance, holding the handle of the aude in his right hand 
and the point of the blade in his left, turning it with rotatory 
movement as he danced, now swaying his body and lifting his 
feet higher from the ground. He went to the kirikoraha, and 
inspected the milk, letting it run through his fingers and 
dropping some on the aude to see if it was rich enough : 
apparently he was satisfied with its quality. Soon he fell 
back and was supported by Sitawaniya. After a short time 
he revived with much quivering and gasping, and, taking a 
handful of the cocoa-nut milk, he shouted and approached the 
arachi (this man was known to the Bendiagalge community 
and was much respected, both because he boasted Vedda blood 
and because he was renowned as a Vederale charmer and 
medicine-man) who accompanied us, and scattered the juice 
over him, while with the right hand on his shoulder he ex- 
pressed his pleasure in seeing him and promised him game to 
shoot. Then after prophesying good hunting to each of us 
in turn and to several of the Veddas, the Yaka of Belinde left 

" Randu Waniya again danced eastward round the Kirikoraha, 
holding the aude in both hands, but soon he began to crouch 
and pointed to the ground, and then pretended to thrust the 
aude at imaginary slots. Here his excited manner showed 
that he had become possessed by Kande Yaka, and he imitated 
him as he followed the trail of a sambur. Sitawaniya took 
the aude and gave him a bow and arrow and the tracking con- 
tinued amidst intense excitement, Sitawaniya following closely, 
ready to support the shaman if he should fall, and others 
pointing out the slots to him, till at last, a basket having been 
placed on the ground, he pulled his bow and shot it (Fig. 12). 
As the arrow sped from the string he fell back seemingly 
exhausted. The Yaka did not here finally depart from the 
shaman, but merely went to the quarry to ascertain if his shot 


had been fatal. The shaman soon came to himself, apparently 
satisfied, and bent his head over the kirikoraha, and then in the 
usual agitated manner of the Yaku, came to each of us in turn 
and placed the aude on our heads, thereby granting us jungle 
favour, and afterwards proceeded to various of the Veddas, 
prophesying good luck in hunting to each of them. Then 
taking the half shells in either hand and waving them about, 
he danced round the kirikoraha, and bent his head over the 
pot, so that the Yaka might drink, and afterwards fell into 
Sitawaniya's arms. Again he revived and, putting his arms on 
our interpreter, promised him victory in all undertakings. 
Then turning to the kirikoraha, having given the aude to one 
of the onlookers, who were all willing assistants, he filled the 
palms of his hands with milk and bounded forward, and with 
eveiy step raised his hands and scattered the milk, and in this 
way the Yaka within him showed his pleasure. 

" Next he took the kirikoraha from the tripod and with both 
hands spun it on the ground, and immediately it left his hands, 
he fell back. The spinning was prophetic, for in that direction 
towards which the bowl dipped, there game would be found. 
This time it dipped to the north. When the shaman came to 
himself, after a few seconds, Kande Yaka had left him and he 
was possessed by Belinde Yaka again. With shouts, gasping, 
and trembling he came to most of the onlookers and promised 
good hunting in the usual manner, and he took the kirikoraha 
and spun ; and when it left his hands the spirit departed from 
the shaman and he fell back. The dance was now over and all 
were eager to partake of the cocoa-nut milk Yaka food and 
so valuable that none must be wasted. All the men took a 
little and also fed the children with it, but the women were not 
allowed to eat it. However, as the mere contact with the milk 
had intrinsic virtue, the shaman rubbed some on their heads. 
In other less sophisticated communities women were not 
looked upon as unclean, and it seemed that the idea might 
be borrowed from the Singhalese, among whom it is very 
strongly held 1 ." 

1 It may be that this belief in the efficacy of some mimetic representation of a 
successful hunt may be found even among the lower animals. The following fact 


No one on reading the account of this interesting ceremony, 
probably the most primitive of dramatic performances, will fail 
to recognise in it the same principle of propitiating the spirits 
of dead heroes by representations of their exploits, and even of 
their sorrows, which we have found in the case of Adrastus and 
in the mediaeval religious dramas. But there are even other 
points of contact between the simple Vedda ritual and some of 
the most stately of Greek ceremonies. As the simple aborigines 
of Ceylon invite their Yaku to partake of food, so the Greeks of 
the golden age of Hellas held entertainments for their gods and 
heroes. These Theoxenia " Banquets of the gods " were held 
in various parts of Greece. There were such festivals in honour 
of Apollo at Pellene and also at Delphi, where one of the months 
was called Theoxenios, whilst at Agrigentum a like feast was 
held to which Castor and Pollux were supposed to come : 
"For to them (the Dioscuri) he (Heracles) gave charge when he 
ascended into Olympus to order the spectacle of the Games, 
both the struggle of man with man and the driving of the 
nimble car. Anywise my soul is stirred to declare that to the 
Emmenidae and to Theron has glory come by the gift of the 
Tyndaridae of goodly steeds, for that beyond all mortals they 
do honour to them with tables of hospitality, keeping with pious 
spirit the rite of the blessed gods 1 ." 

may point in this direction. A tabby cat, of perhaps more than average 
intelligence, was seated on my knees one winter evening beside the fireplace. A 
mouse came out from under the further end of the fender, whereupon she 
sprang from my knee and caught it. Next evening she repeated the same 
performance, getting up and sitting on my knee, and then suddenly springing 
across the hearthrug to the spot where she had secured her prey on the previous 
night. Almost every evening that winter she repeated the experiment, never 
springing at the imaginary mouse from any other place than from my knee. The 
following winter she recommenced the mimetic performance of her successful 
hunt, and the next winter she again did the same. It was only last winter that 
she finally abandoned her attempts to elicit a mouse by repeating the action 
which had once proved eminently successful. I may add that in the interval 
the fire-place had been completely altered. Among primitive peoples, such as 
the Malays, in order to secure his game more easily, the hunter addresses it in 
beguiling words (Skeat, Malay Magic, p. 171). The same cat when searching 
for mice or when listening to them when beyond her reach, does not growl, but 
addresses them in the dulcet tones of endearment which she uses to her kittens. 
1 Pindar, 01. in, 35 sqq. 


So too at the great festival of the Eleutheria at Plataea, 
held in honour of those who had laid down their lives to deliver 
Hellas from the Mede, the chief magistrate each year headed a 
procession to the graves, and after laving the tombstones with 
water from the fount and anointing them with unguent, slew a 
black bull and after a preliminary prayer to Zeus and Hermes, 
invited the heroic dead to partake of the banquet and the 
blood 1 . 

To sum up then our results so far, we may arrive with some 
probability at the following conclusions : that the Dorians did 
J, not invent Tragedy; that representations of the sufferings of 
heroes were familiar features in Greece before the incoming of the 
worship of Dionysus; that such solemn songs and dances were part 
of the propitiatory rites performed at the tombs of heroes in order 
that they might protect their people, and that the earth, thrbugh 
their kindly interposition, might bring forth her fruits ; that on 
top of this primaeval ancestor-worship came in a Thracian 
cult of a wild orgiastic kind, a ritual likewise regarded as 
beneficial for promoting vegetation and the increase of food ; 
that this new religion was gradually in many places engrafted 
on old local cults of heroes, and that the tombs of the latter 
now became the altars of Dionysus ; that the only true Dionysiac 
element was the dithyramb that dealt with the sorrows and 
adventures of Dionysus and his Satyrs, and that from this grew 
the Satyric drama, whose close union with, and at the same time 
rigid distinction from, Tragedy as well as from Comedy is thus 
at last explained ; further, that the grand step made by Thespis 
was to elevate the Tragic dance from being a mere piece of 
ritual inseparably connected with a particular shrine into true 
dramatic literature ; finally, it would appear that the principle 
from which Tragedy sprang was not confined to Greece or 
to Mediterranean lands, but is world-wide and one of the 
many touches that make the whole world kin. 

1 Plut. Aristides, 21. 



In that new world which is the old. 


IN the previous pages we have carefully tested the grounds 
for the doctrine traditional with scholars respecting the origin 
of the Tragic art, and we have been forced to reject the old 
view. Then a further search with new methods into the 
available data bearing on Greek mimetic performances and 
extending far beyond the limits of Greece and the Mediterranean 
led us to the conclusion that Tragedy originated in the worship 
of the Dead. 

Let us now turn to the extant works of the great Greek 
dramatists, and let us examine the main ideas which pervade 
them, and see how far these are distinct survivals of the 
religious and social doctrines held by the Greeks in the ages 
before the full development of Tragedy in the beginning of 
the fifth century B.C., when in the hands of Aeschylus 

"The thing became a trumpet whence he blew 
Soul-animating strains," 

of which but too few have reached our ears. If it should turn 
out, that not only the tombs of kings and heroes, but also the 
offerings made at them, including even human sacrifices, the 
ghosts of the mighty dead, and the use of such tombs as 
sanctuaries take leading parts in a great number of the plays 
that still survive, we need have little doubt that our views 
respecting the origin of Tragedy rest on sure foundations. 


Tombs in Greek Tragedies. If the tomb of the hero or 
heroine was really, as we hold, the centre round which grew up 
the primitive Tragedy, we ought to find distinct evidence for 
this in the plays of Aeschylus, the oldest of the three great 
Tragic poets. Thespis, according to tradition, had made his 
grand step long before his victory in the first Tragic contest 
in B.C. 535. Ten years later Aeschylus, the son of Euphorion, 
was born at Eleusis. He competed with his first play against 
Pratinas, but not successfully, in B.C. 499, when he was but 
twenty-five. Henceforward he was in constant rivalry with 
Pratinas, Choerilus, Phrynichus, and in later times with his 
younger contemporary Sophocles. He was thirty-five years 
old when he and his two valiant brothers fought at the battle of 
Marathon 1 , where Cynegirus, the elder, fell in the final attack 
on the Persian ships. He was forty-five at the battle of 
Salamis, the chief glory of which probably belongs to his 
other brother Ameinias. 

Tradition 2 states that the poet was present on the ship 
of his youngest brother Ameinias, who was the real hero 
of that great victory. This man, when the Athenians, panic- 
stricken at the sight of the Persian Armada, began to back- 
water, alone of all urged his ship forward, charging a navy, 
"whilst all the world wondered." On seeing him ram a 
ship of the enemy, the Greeks took heart and joined battle 
all along the line 3 . Not only then was the dramatist an 
eye-witness of the mighty deeds which he has enshrined for 
ever in his Persae, but it is almost certain that he himself 
was one of that undaunted crew which saved Hellas and 

1 Suidas s.v. A&rxi'Xos, who also states that he fought at Plataea. 

2 Schol. Med. Pers. 431: 'Iwv iv TCUJ 'Eirt57;//.ats irapetvai Alcrx^ov iv roty 
SaXa/uivta/cots <pijai. The Medicean Life of Aeschylus says that the poet yuerArxe 
TTJS tv SoXa/uiPt vavfiaxias ffvv rf vtwrdrtf! r&v d5f\(f>wi> 'A/j.ivlq.. Ion was a con- 
temporary of Aeschylus. 

3 Herod, vni, 84: dvayo/JL^voun dt fftpi avriKa tireKtaTo oi fiapftapoi. ol (Jiv dr) 
A\\ot "EXXijpej eTrl> aveKpotiovro Kal UKfXXov ras vtas, ' Aftftvlris 5e IlaXX^feuy 
avyp 'Abates e^ovax^eis "?' ^u/3d\\et KT\. To this incident Aeschylus himself 
alludes (Persae 411): 

va.Cs, Kairo6pa\jf i iravra'. 

It is probable that Aristophanes refers to this same Ameinias and his exploit 


the western world. Critics of course have denied that this 
Ameinias was the brother of Aeschylus, chiefly on the ground 
that he belonged to the deme of Pallene, whilst Aeschylus 
belonged to Eleusis. But, as often happens in such cases, 
they have ignored a simple and probable solution of this 
difficulty. Adoption was a very common practice at Athens, 
and by Attic law, if a boy were adopted he passed from his own 
family and deme into those of his adoptive father. The fact 
that Ameinias was the youngest of the three brothers 
harmonises admirably with the view that he had been adopted 
into another family. No father would have given an elder son 
to another family, but rather his youngest. 

The other objection is that Herodotus would certainly have 
mentioned that Ameinias was a brother of Aeschylus, had such 
been the case. But he does not tell us that Cynegirus was a 
brother of the poet, simply stating that he was the son of 
Euphorion 1 . Any biographical notes upon the relations of 
Ameinias would have been utterly out of place and have 
marred the grandeur of the account of the opening and decisive 
incident of the great struggle. 

But even if Aeschylus was not on the ship of Ameinias of 
Pallene, either as a combatant or as a spectator, he must have 
looked upon that grand scene of which he has left an immortal 
picture in the Persae. The famous lines in which he describes 
the dead Persians flung helpless and inert by the pitiless waves 
against the unyielding shore of " dove-nursing " Salamis are as 
little likely to have been drawn from fancy as is that magnificent 
passage in which another soldier-dramatist, Cyril Tourneur, has 
pictured the dead soldier lying in the surf: 

in Eq. 569-70, where I ventured to amend many years ago 'A/twietj to 'Apeivlas 
(Camb. Phil. Trans., vol. i, p. 210). The poet is speaking of the brave men 
who fought at Marathon in contrast to the poltroons of his own day : 
ov yap ovSeis TTWTTOT' avrCiv TOIIS tvavrlovs idwv 
fipi6/j.r)<rev, dXX' 6 Ovuos evOvs TJV dowlas. 

The name of Amunias occurs several times in the Nubes and the Vespae 
either as that of an usurer or of an infamous archon. Aristophanes therefore 
was not likely to use a name with such evil associations in such a passage, but 
rather that of one of the worthies who had fought at Marathon or Salamis. 

Cf. R. A. Neil's ed. of the Equites, ad loc. 

1 Herod, vi, 114. 


" He lay in his armour as if that had been 
His coffin ; and the weeping sea (like one 
Whose milder temper doth lament the death 
Of him whom in his rage he slew) runs up 
The shore, embraces him, kisses his cheek ; 
Goes back again and forces up the sand 
To bury him 1 ." 

But the two poets approach their theme from opposite 
standpoints ; the note of the Athenian is that of triumph and 
exultation over his slain enemies ; that of the Englishman 
sorrow and sympathy for a dead friend, who lay 

" Among the slaughtered bodies of their men, 
Which the full-stomach'd sea had cast upon the sand." 

Each reads his own feelings into the like action of the ceaseless 

Thus the chief part of the poet's life was over before the 
wonderful development in political and artistic activity, which 
characterised the new Athens of Ephialtes and Pericles. Though 
Thespis had made his grand step, the Tragic art was still but 
in its cradle when Aeschylus had reached man's estate, for 
Phrynichus made no material innovation, and it was left for 
Aeschylus himself to make the next great stride by introducing 
the second actor and by diminishing the importance of the 
chorus, as well as the minor improvements of the painted masks 
(Fig. 13) and the buskin 2 . 

As Tragedy could hardly be termed an art before it had been 
made an, organic whole by these far-reaching innovations, it is 
not surprising that Aristotle, as we have seen, ignored Thespis 
and the other pioneers, and began his historical account of the 
Attic stage with Aeschylus. Indeed the fact that he it was 
who bridged over the gulf between the old Athens and the new, 
as Marlowe was the link between the Moralities and the 
Histories and the full-blown Elizabethan drama, is the true 
explanation of his use of strange and monstrous forms, such as 

1 The Atheist's Tragedy. 

2 Hor. Ars Poet. 278-80 : 

"post hunc personae pallaeque repertor honestae 
Aeschylus et modicis instrauit pulpita tignis 
et docuit magnumque loqui nitique cothurno." 




" Horse-Cocks " and " Goat-Stags." These were not the experi- 
ments of a dramatist striving after novelties, but were rather 
the survivals of those uncouth mimetic dances, of which strange 
and composite forms of quadrupeds, birds and men 1 were an 
essential characteristic, and which, as is proved by the material 
monuments, had come down from the Bronze Age of Greece. 

The last survival of the awful conceptions of a dark and 
dreadful past meets us in his representation of the Erinyes, 
whose terrible and monstrous aspect made pregnant women 
bring forth in the theatre. We may therefore rest assured that 
in his early days, as we shall presently see, and probably for long 

FIG. 13. The Masks of Tragedy and Comedy. 

after, the old notions respecting the purpose of Tragic choruses 
were still fresh and unblurred by time in the minds of the 

If therefore it shall turn out that the tombs of heroes, and 
offerings at these tombs, and laments for the dead, figure 
prominently in almost all his extant plays, we may conclude 
that these are no new inventions of the poet's fertile brain, 
but merely a continuation of the traditional subjects, purposes 
and performances of Cyclic or Tragic Choruses. 

The Persae. Although the Persae belongs to the poet's 
middle period and was performed in B.C. 472, seven years after 
the flight of the Persians from Greece never more to return, and 

1 Cf. Pollux, iv, 103, 6 5 yu.o/>0acr/ot6j ira.vTo5a.irC}v wui> rjv fj.i/jLrj(ris KT\. 
R. T. 8 


though, as will shortly be seen, a tomb plays a prominent part 
in his earliest surviving drama, yet as the Persae furnishes not 
only an admirable example of a tomb on the stage, but also of 
the worship of dead heroes, we shall take it first in order. 

The Persae is no true drama ; it is rather a glorious epinician 
poem infinitely superior to those in which Pindar celebrated, 
albeit with marvellous art, the victories of chariots, of horses, 
and of heavy-armed men or naked athletes at Olympia or Pytho. 
For the Persae recounts no mere mimicry of battle or contest. 
Aeschylus sang of the victory of the Greek spear over the 
Asiatic bow in the grim moil of war, the triumph of free 
states over the despot of Asia. It stands to the Attic Drama 
much as does Shakespeare's Henry Vto the Elizabethan. Just 
as the latter was adapted by Shakespeare from the older play of 
The Famous Victories of King Henry the Fifth, so it is held 
that Aeschylus in writing the Persae drew somewhat upon the 
Phoenissae of Phrynichus. But there is this important difference 
between the Greek and the English play. The latter is a 
dramatic representation without any plot of a series of victories 
over the French before an English audience who are exulting in 
the spectacular representation of the overthrow of their hereditary 
enemies at Harfleur and Agincourt. No note save that of triumph 
is heard throughout, only one slight glimpse of the French stand- 
point is given in the scene between Henry and Katherine of 
France. The Persae might indeed be well termed " The Famous 
Victories of the Athenians," but instead of the pictures of the 
victories being presented to the audience by Athenian dramatis 
personae, the grim joy of the Athenians at their great deliver- 
ance is enhanced by the spectacle wherein the dramatis personae 
are the heads of the Persian empire, who recite their own over- 
throw and the triumphs of the Greeks. But it was not merely to 
give a keener zest to the exultation of the Athenians over their 
foes that Aeschylus constructed his great poem from this peculiar 
standpoint. If it was to be a tragedy at all and to conform to the 
conventional type, sorrow of some sort must form a chief feature. 
Yet this must not be a sorrow that would cause anguish or even 
a sense of discomfort to any Athenian heart. Phrynichus had 
composed a tragedy like that of Aeschylus, in so far as it was 


on a recent historical event. His Capture of Miletus was as 
tragic in all its circumstances as could be desired, but the 
Athenians fined him for placing the miseries of their kindred 
before them and thus reminding them of their misfortunes. By 
his treatment of the Persae Aeschylus both avoided the fate of 
Phrynichus and at the same time placed on the stage a truly 
tragic situation, and besides he was able to introduce on the 
scene the immemorial centre-piece of Tragic choruses, a hero's 
tomb, lamentations for and propitiatory offerings to the dead. 

The scene opens before the palace at Persepolis. In the 
centre lies the tomb of Darius. Around it slowly march the 
chorus composed of twelve of the greatest Persian nobles left 
behind to administer the Empire during the absence of Xerxes. 
They are full of apprehension, for no tidings have come, not 
even a. single horseman with news of the great host that had 
passed into Europe. The tomb of Darius almost certainly forms 
the thymele, as scholars have long held. This in itself is a 
startling confirmation of the doctrine of the origin of the 
thymele given above (p. 39). Presently the elders propose to 
enter the hall of the palace to hold council. Next enters Atossa, 
daughter of Cyrus, the widow of Darius and mother of Xerxes. 
The elders salute her as wife of the god of the Persians and as 
mother of a god. The queen then tells them why she has come 
forth from the marriage chamber of herself and Darius. First, 
ascribing the prosperity of her consort to the care of some god, 
she declares that the eye of the house is the presence of its 
master. Ever since Xerxes marched away she has been haunted 
by visions in the night season, but on the night just passed she 
had had a far more manifest vision than any heretofore. She 
beheld two women of surpassing beauty, sisters in origin, the 
one in Persian, the other in Dorian garments; the one had been 
allotted Hellas, the other Asia. Then they began to quarrel, 
and Xerxes sought to quell their strife by placing collar-straps 
on their necks and yoking them to a car. One was docile and 
took the bit freely ; the other proved restive and finally broke 
the pole. Darius standing by beheld his son's disaster. Then 
Xerxes perceiving his father present and viewing his catastrophe, 
rent his raiment. When morning came, the queen, to rid her of 


the evil presage of her vision, washed her hands in running 
water, and taking incense prayed to the averting gods. But to 
her dismay an eagle pursued by a kite took refuge at the altar 
of Phoebus. Finally she reminds the elders that if Xerxes be 
victorious, he will be a hero ; but should he meet defeat, he is 
not accountable to the State, and it will make no difference 
provided he himself returns home safe. 

The chorus of elders urge her to pray first to the averting 
gods, then to pour out libations to Earth, and to the spirits of 
them that be departed, and lastly to supplicate her husband 
Darius, whom she had seen in her dreams the previous night, to 
send blessings on herself and on her son from the world below, 
and to keep all evil in darkness beneath the earth, shrouded in 
infernal gloom. In reply Atossa declares that as soon as she 
goes back to the palace she will carry out their requests. After 
some further parley between the queen and the chorus, the 
former says that she will first pray to the gods, next she will 
take drink-offerings from her house to present to Earth and to 
the spirits of them which be dead ; and these accomplished, she 
will return to them. Soon comes the messenger with the dread 
tidings of all that had happened at Salamis. The chorus then 
makes lament for those whose corpses are tossing in the tide 
and are being devoured by " the dumb children of the Un- 
defiled," and they predict the anarchy that will fill the Empire. 
Just then Atossa returns from the palace bringing to Darius 
such libations and offerings as may have power to appease the 
dead. She bids them to ingeminate their appeals to Darius, 
now a spirit of power in Hades. " I myself," says she, " will 
head the procession and carry these earth-poured offerings in 
honour of the gods below." 

They then pray to the gods of the nether world to be 
propitious and to send up the soul of Darius to the light. 
" Their dear departed king," they declare, " is equal in power 
to the daemones," and they beseech the Chthonian spirits to 
convey to him through Earth their request " even though it be 
in a barbarous tongue." " Does he hear me down below ? But 
dp thou, O Earth, and ye mighty rulers of the dead, allow to 
pass out from your abodes a mighty prince of the ghosts, the 


Susa-born lord, the king of the Persians, and send up to us such 
a one as the Persian land hath never before covered with its 
sod. Dear was the man, dear is his tomb." " Aidoneus, Guide 
of the dead to the world above, send up to us the spirit of 
Darius. Oh, what a king was he ! Divine truly was he, for he 
ruled his people prosperously. O ancient king, come visit us ! 
Come to the surface of thy grave-howe, uplifting to our view 
thy saffron-dyed shoes, and revealing the crest of the royal 
tiara. Darius, come forth." Then from the tomb arises Darius 
in spectral form ($>darfia). At first he seems drowsy and but 
half awake, as though after life's fitful fever he had indeed 
slept well. He begins to address them slowly, and from the 
lines that follow we learn clearly the doctrine of the Athenians 
respecting the normal condition of the dead. They know not 
what is passing on the earth above, unless their spirits be 
vivified by offerings of blood or other kinds of libations and 
be invoked with special prayers. If this be done, they awake 
to consciousness, and they can sympathise with, and best of all 
they can aid, their kindred and nation. Darius knows nothing 
of the great events which have been happening to his Empire 
until he conies to the surface of his grave. Seeing the Persian 
magnificoes and his wife standing near, he addresses them : 
"Trustiest of councillors, comrades of my youth, what affliction 
oppresses the city ? The broad earth groans as if furrowed with 
chariot- wheels. Dread comes o'er me as I see my spouse standing 
near my tomb, and right willingly I accepted her libation. Ye 
make lament here at my barrow and with shrill wailings to 
bring forth my soul ye summoned me. Yet it is not easy to 
pass forth, since the gods beneath are more ready to take than 
to restore. Yet, as I hold some place of state amongst them, I 
am come. But haste ye, that I be blamed not for excessive 
stay. What is this fresh and heavy blow \that hath fallen on 
the Persians ? " The chorus are afraid to tell him, and then, 
turning to Atossa, he asks her what has happened. " Is it 
pestilence or a revolt ? " Then Atossa tells him the whole 
story, how Xerxes had bridged the Hellespont and marched 
into Greece, and how the Persian host had perished near 
Athens. On hearing her story Darius declares that Zeus has 


accomplished certain oracles : Xerxes has brought all this on 
himself for his arrogance in binding with chains like a slave the 
sacred Hellespont, thus staying the stream of the gods, and 
thinking to master even Poseidon himself. He then recounts 
the story of the building of the Empire, and its successive 
sovereigns. But the chorus are not satisfied with the barren 
recital of the past. " We want to know," say they, " how Persia 
is to fare better in time to come." Darius replies : " Make no 
expeditions against the Hellenes, for the land itself is their ally 
since it kills by famine those who march with great hosts." 
Though at first the ghost of Darius seems to know little of 
current events he gradually gains a clearer vision and he 
predicts the battle of Plataea and its disastrous result, de- 
claring that as the Persians had destroyed temples and thrown 
down altars, the gods would now take them to task. The day 
of reckoning has come. " Zeus is ever ready to punish pride 
and is at hand to exact a heavy reckoning." Then Darius turns 
to Atossa, bids her prepare to meet Xerxes and to have fresh 
apparel at hand for him. " But I must depart into the darkness 
below. Farewell, ye elders, take such pleasures as the day 
affords, for the dead have no joy of wealth." 

From this summary it will be clear that all the action of the 
play centres round the tomb of Darius, which stands in front of 
the royal palace just as the graves of the ancient rulers of 
Mycenae lay within the Acropolis, as the tombs of the kings 
of Gyrene lay opposite their palace in the Agora, and as the 
heroum of Adrastus stood in the Agora at Sicyon. Though the 
scene is laid in the Persian capital, and though the characters 
are Persians, we may rest assured that they represent for us 
faithfully the doctrines respecting the dead held by the Greeks 
of the fifth century B.C. So, though Shakespeare may lay the 
scenes of his tragedies in Denmark or Venice and bring before 
us Danish princes or Moorish captains, the thought and senti- 
ment of his plays is not a whit less English. Aeschylus repre- 
sents the spirit of the great dead king as invoked to come to 
the aid of his family and people, and he regards Darius as 
having the same powers as the old Greek heroes, such as 
Scephrus, who were supposed to influence the spirits beneath 


the earth and thus produce barrenness or plenty. In no extant 
passage is the attitude of the Athenians of the fifth century B.C. 
towards the spirits of the dead, and their view of the unseen 
world set out for us with clearer definition. But if we have 
still any doubt that Aeschylus in the Persae is presenting 
current Athenian doctrines respecting the dead, these will be 
at once dispelled when we turn to the Choephori. 

The Choephori. It was not merely in his middle period 
that Aeschylus employed a tomb and a ghost as the central 
point, or at least as a very important feature, in the structure 
of his plays. Both occur in the Oresteia, which was produced 
in B.C. 458, just two years before its author's death. In the 
Choephori, the middle play of that great trilogy, the action 
centres round the tomb of Agamemnon. The play opens with 
the presence of Orestes and Pylades before the tomb. Orestes 
has come to offer a long-nurtured lock of hair to his father's 
spirit by laying it on his grave. He invokes the aid of Hermes, 
whose image stands hard by, to aid him in bringing up from 
the world below the spirit of his father. Meantime a band of 
slave -women, probably Trojan captives, headed by Electra comes 
forth from the palace bearing libations to assuage and propitiate 
the soul of Agamemnon. This they are doing by order of his 
guilty consort Clytemnestra, who on the previous night had had 
a fearsome vision, dreaming that the soul of her murdered lord 
beneath the earth was intent on vengeance, and by the advice 
of the soothsayers she is now sending these propitiatory offerings. 
Electra is in doubt how to discharge her mother's errand. Shall 
she entreat Agamemnon to be meek and gentle with his butchers, 
or shall she urge him to avenge his wrongs ? Or again, shall 
she simply pour down the libation into the earth (doubtless into 
a bothros) and depart as if she were but casting forth foul water ? 
The chorus counsel her to pray to her father to requite those 
who have sent the offerings. They declare that they reverence 
Agamemnon's tomb as a real altar 1 (Fig. 14), and they will 
speak since Electra asks their advice. 

This expression on the part of the chorus admirably illus- 
trates the transition from tomb to altar for which I have argued 

1 198 : ai$ ffoi (Sw/udv u!$ T\jfjLJ3ov irarpos. 


in the case of the thymele (p. 39). Electra then pours the 
libation into the ground, for she speaks of it as " earth-drunk." 
While doing so, she notices a lock of hair upon the grave, which 
she sees to be like her own, that is, blonde 4 . She also observes 
footprints, which resemble in their contour, not in their size, 
her own feet. Some years ago I explained 2 the difficulty so long 
felt by scholars. The recognition (avajvcopi(n,<;) of brother and 
sister (Fig. 14) thus naturally arises from the worship of the 
dead, though actually effected by the similarity in colour of the 
hair and the shape of the feet of the brother and sister, who are 
both of the blonde Achean race from the north, and thus differ 
essentially from the dark aboriginal population of Argolis, whilst 
the identity of Orestes is finally put beyond all doubt by a piece 
of embroidery worn by him, which had been wrought by Electra 

Next Orestes and Electra pray to Zeus to save the brood of 
the great eagle their sire, but the chorus warn them to beware 
lest gossip may report their proceedings to the palace. Orestes 
next tells his sister that the oracle of Apollo had warned him 
to beware of the wrath of his father's spirit beneath the earth 
if he did not avenge his murder. Then follows the invocation 
of the soul of Agamemnon by the brother and sister. But 
although this prayer affords a very close parallel to that 
offered to Darius in the Persae (p. 117), yet when we scrutinise 
it more closely, we find that Aeschylus looks at each case from 
a very different standpoint. There can be no doubt that the 
ancient Persians, like their brethren the Aryans of the Rig- 
Veda, had once burned their dead, although by the time of 
Herodotus they had probably dropped this practice to a con- 
siderable extent, for the historian tells us 3 , " It is said that the 
body of a male Persian is never buried until it has been torn 
either by a dog or a bird of prey. That the Magi have this 

1 158: yav&Tovt xo<", cf. 89: ydiroTOv \6(nv, cf. Persae, 623: yavArovs Tifj.ds. 

a In the Early Age of Greece, vol. i, p. 284, and in the Introd. to Dr Verrall's 
edition of the Choephori (1893), pp. vii, xxxiii sqq., li sq., I have given this 
explanation of the famous passage and it has been adopted by Prof. Tucker 
in his edition of that play (1901), pp. Ixvi-lxix, but without any acknow- 

3 i, 140. 





custom is beyond a doubt, for they practise it without any con- 
cealment. The dead bodies of the ordinary Persians are covered 
with wax and then buried in the ground." Cicero 1 also states 
that the Persians bury their dead, and that the Magi had the 
practice (still cherished by the Parsis) " non inhumare corpora 
suorum nisi a feris sint ante laniata." The extreme dread of 
polluting the earth with a corpse, which is so marked a feature 
of the Avesta is really peculiar to Magism, for the ordinary 
Persian buried his dead, as we have seen. According to the 
Avesta, Angra Mainyu created "a sin for which there is no 
atonement, the burying of the dead." For in the earth lived 
a goddess Spenta Armaiti, and no corpse ought to defile her 
sacred breast. Hence for inhumation there was no atonement. 
Just as dreadful was it to defile fire by the contamination of a 
dead body. Thus when Cambyses had the mummy of Amasis, 
the Egyptian king, burned, " this," says Herodotus 2 , " was truly 
an impious command to give, for the Persians hold fire to be a 
god and never by any chance burn their dead, since they deem 
it wrong to give the corpse of a man to a god." 

Yet it would appear that the Persians had burned their 
dead down to the time of Cyrus 3 . Certainly they had no 
scruple in burning the living, as is proved by the story of 
Croesus. It is said that it was in consequence of Zeus 
hurling a thunderbolt to save that monarch from being burned 
to death that "thenceforth the Persians began to observe the 
law of Zoroaster which forbade the burning of dead bodies or 
any other pollution of the element of fire ; and so the ancient 
ordinance that had been neglected was established among them." 
The Avesta in its opening chapter denounces those people who 
either burn or bury their dead, and these denunciations fully bear 
out the belief that the true Persians like the Vedic Aryans 
had once practised cremation. Yet in spite of the ban of 
the Avesta against inhumation, the Achaemenean kings were 
all entombed, if not buried in the earth, as we know from 
classical writers and modern discoveries both at Meshed-i- 

1 Tusc. Disp. i, 44. 108. 2 in, 16. 

3 Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece, pp. 485 sqq., and 542 sqq. (" Inhumation, 
Cremation and the Soul "). 


Murghab (Pasargadae ?) and at Persepolis. The royal tombs 
at Meshed-i-Murghab are older, and they are assigned to Cyrus 
and Cambyses, whilst those at Persepolis are probably those of 
Darius Hystaspes and his successors. We know from Strabo 1 
that Cyrus was buried at Pasargadae. Alexander visited the 
tomb, which was a small tower standing in a park amid a grove 
of trees. The lower part of the tower was solid but above there 
was one story and a shrine with a very narrow opening. Aris- 
tobulus says that by Alexander's command he entered through 
this aperture and decorated the tomb. Inside he beheld a golden 
couch, a table with cups, a golden coffin (TryeXo?), many garments, 
and dresses garnished with precious stones. These he saw on 
the first occasion, but on a second visit he found that the tomb 
had been robbed, and everything had been removed except the 
couch and the coffin, which had been only broken. The dead 
body had been removed from its place. The shrine was guarded 
by Magi who for maintenance received a sheep daily and every 
month a horse for sacrifice to Cyrus 2 . 

Theophrastus 3 says that Darius was laid in an alabaster 
sarcophagus. There can be little doubt that the practice of 
giving the dead to wild beasts was not Persian, but the custom 
of the aboriginal races which they conquered, and whose priests, 
the Magi, they tolerated, just as the Celts in Gaul treated with 
respect the Druids and the ancient religion of the subject 

Though the Persians had once cremated their dead as did 
the Vedic Aryans in the belief that fire purified the soul from 
the contamination of the body, they had reverted to inhumation 
when the reverence for fire had increased to such an extent that 
they no longer held that it had any lower phase, such as the 
Hindus believe to be the case with Agni. When neither the 
pure element of fire nor the Earth-goddess herself nor water 
must be defiled by a dead body, there was no course left but to 
leave the dead to be devoured by the beasts of the field and the 

1 vii, 29. 2 Arrian, Anab. vi, 29. 

3 Lap. 6 : xal 6 rip (XeQavrt 8/j.oios 6 x e P v ^ Tr >^ KaXoti/j-tvos tv 77 True'Xy <f>a.ffl xa.1 
Aapeiov KelffQai. For an account of the modern condition of the royal tombs, see 
Perrot and Chipiez, Art in Persia, pp. 196 sqq. 


fowls of the air. Nature's mysterious chemistry would thus 
transmute the rotting carcase into the bodies of living creatures 
and thus neither earth nor fire nor water would be outraged. 
But it cannot be maintained that this was a new practice invented 
by the Magi, as a means of escaping from grave theological diffi- 
culties. The same practice still prevails amongst the Tartars, 
Samoyedes, and Tibetans, as it did in ancient times not only 
among the Hyrcanians but also among the very barbarous tribes 
who dwelt on the shore of the Indian Ocean south and east of 
Persia. The Magi then, who, be it remembered, were recruited 
from Media, seem simply to have clung to the ancient practice 
of the indigenous peoples of a large part of Asia, and continually 
tried to force it upon the Persian conquerors. Indo-Persian 
respect for the Fire-god supplied them with a lever, and the 
Magi did not find it difficult to put an end to cremation. But 
with inhumation it was different, and it seems very doubtful if 
they ever succeeded in constraining the mass of the Persians to 
abandon this practice 1 . 

It is even possible that in days when cremation was generally 
followed by the Persians, the kings were buried. The Persians, 
like the ancient Swedes and modern Burmese, may have held 
that it was very important for the weal of the land that the 
king's spirit should remain among his people and not depart to 
another region, as it certainly would, if the body were consumed 
by fire. From the furniture in the tomb of Cyrus and the 
monthly sacrifice there offered, it is clear that the soul of the 
great conqueror was supposed to dwell therein. The king 
thus continued to watch over his people (p. 30). There is no 
doubt that the body of Darius lay in his sarcophagus within 
his tomb at Persepolis, and we may reasonably believe that his 
spirit was honoured with periodical sacrifices like those given to 
Cyrus. Aeschylus was well aware of this, and he had no doubt 
that the spirit of Darius, though in the earth beneath, was 
within easy reach of those who prayed to him. 

Let us now return to Greece and the Choephori. In Homer 
the bodies of the dead are always burned and as soon as the 
body has been consumed, the soul passes away to the unseen 
1 Kidgeway, Early Age of Greece, pp. 544-5. 


region lying by Ocean in the West, never more to return. In 
the opening lines of the Choephori, Orestes prays Hermes to 
summon his father " to hear and . to give heed to his (Orestes') 
prayer, at this very mound of his tomb." The maidens from the 
palace, at the bidding of Clytemnestra, are bearing offerings to 
Agamemnon, such as are used for propitiating the powers below 
(cf. Fig. 14). Electra's speech likewise shows the belief that the 
dead man in the tomb could hear the words addressed to him 
when the libations were poured down. All this is the ordinary 
doctrine respecting one whose unburnt remains lie in the tomb, 
for the spirit keeps near its tenement. But it is assumed in the 
Choephori that Agamemnon has been burned, and therefore 
according to Homer his spirit would be far away in the land of 
the dead, nor could it be consulted save by one who voyaged 
thither in a dark ship as did Odysseus. It is evident then that 
by the time of Aeschylus an eclectic doctrine had been evolved. 
The Homeric belief in a separate abode for disembodied spirits 
was adopted by some, but at the same time the ancient 
Athenian doctrine of the constant presence of the soul in the 
grave of its body was retained, the gulf between both doctrines 
being bridged over by the theory that even though the body 
was burned the soul could return to its ashes in the grave and 
could comprehend the prayer addressed to it. That this was a 
new tenet in the time of Aeschylus is shown by the fact that 
Orestes is made to express himself as if there was no certainty 
that his prayer would be heard by his father, as the latter was 
afar off : " Father, ill-starred father, what can I say or do to 
waft to you from afar to that place, where you repose with the 
dead, light equal to your present darkness ? " To this doubt 
the chorus gives an encouraging reply : " My son, the conscious- 
ness of the dead one is not subdued by the fierce consuming 
flame of the fire, but he shows his feelings even after it 1 ." Then 
Orestes and Electra raise their lament at the grave and presently 
the chorus announce that " by this time there is an ally being 
set in motion for them in the world below, and things will favour 
the children." This ally is of course the soul of Agamemnon, 

1 II. 324 sqq. 


which, as it is far away in the Under-world, takes some time to 
reach the tomb where it is being invoked. 

The Homeric abode of the dead, as I have pointed out 1 , is 
not an Under-world, or Inferno, and we may therefore conclude 
that the common Greek and Italian belief in an infernal region 
was an element derived from the older race in each peninsula, 
just as the modern Hindu doctrine of twenty-one hells has been 
added to the Vedic abode of the dead with Yama and the fathers. 
It is probable that this new doctrine of the soul had arisen at 
Athens by the sixth century B.C., for cremation was then coming 
into use, and its introduction would be greatly facilitated by the 
new doctrine which removed the great difficulties presented by 
the pure Achean or Homeric view. 

This gains confirmation from a new practice respecting the 
bodies of worthies. In early days the bodies of heroes had to 
be watched with care for fear of their falling into the hands of 
enemies. The best known instance is the story of the bones of 
Orestes told by Herodotus 2 . It would have been always easy 
to guard against this risk by cremating the hero, but then his 
guardianship was lost to his. people, as his spirit would have 
perished or departed to Hades. It was to the policy of Solon 
that Athens owed Salamis, and who but Solon could keep 
Salamis sure for Athens ? Accordingly the body of the sage 
statesman was burned and his ashes sown over that island 3 . By 
the new doctrine the fire did not subdue the dead man's thought, 
and while on the one hand it was impossible for the Salaminians 
to cast his body out of the land, or to use witchcraft to control 
his spirit, so his soul would be ever present to keep the island 
safe for Athens. At a later period the body of Phalanthus the 
founder of Tarentum was treated in like fashion. We are told 
that it was taken up and burned and its ashes scattered over 
the market-place of that city 4 . No one henceforth could carry 
the bones away and use them against Tarentum, as the Spartans 
had done with those of Orestes, to the bane of Tegea. 

Thus in the Choephori Aeschylus is expounding the new 
doctrine of the soul. But it is not only with respect to this 

1 Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece, vol. i, p. 550. 
2 i, 67-8. * Plut..Soi. 32. 4 Justin, n, 4. 13. 


great doctrine that we shall find him an innovator, and not a 
conservative, as he has been commonly regarded. 

The Suppliants. It may of course be said that since the 
two instances of tombs and hero worship which I have cited 
belong to the middle and later periods in the poet's life, they 
may not represent any continuity of a primitive phase of tragedy, 
but are really to be regarded as a distinctly new conception of 
the dramatist who saw in the tombs an opportunity for the 
exercise of his art. This objection will be quickly disposed of 
when we turn to his earliest extant play, the Suppliants, which 
may with some probability be placed shortly before B.C. 490. 

The Supplices formed probably the first play in a trilogy 
of which the second was either called the Egyptians or the 
Thalamopoei, whilst the third was certainly the Danaides. 
The year of its performance is unknown, but there is now a 
general consensus amongst scholars that it is the earliest of the 
extant plays of its author. As the evidence for its chronology 
is wholly internal, attempts have been made to fix the date of 
the trilogy from supposed allusions in the Suppliants to con- 
temporary political events. Thus Boeckh and other scholars, 
such as Kruse and Carl Ottfried Miiller, assigned it to the 
year B.C. 461 that is, only three years before the Oresteia, on 
the ground that in that year Athens had formed an alliance 
with Argos and had a fleet engaged in Egypt. But the 
Athenian fleet was then aiding Egypt against Persia, whereas 
in the play all is hostility to Egypt, as Prof. Tucker 1 has pointed 
out, whilst it is not at all likely that Aeschylus would have 
shaped a trilogy simply for the purpose of commending Argos 
to his country. On the other hand Prof. Tucker thinks that we 
may suppose Egypt to stand for everything that is Oriental, and 
he accordingly sees in the play an allusion to the threatened 
attack on Attica by the Persians which eventuated in the battle 
of Marathon (B.C. 490). He would accordingly place the trilogy 
in B.C. 492-1, when the Persian invasion was anticipated, whilst 
he thinks that the prayer for Argos that she may never be 
emptied of men may refer .to the disastrous defeat suffered by 
that city at the hands of the Spartans in B.C. 494, by which, 
1 Edition of the Supplices (Introd.). 


to use the words of Herodotus 1 , " she had been widowed of her 

But we must rather rely on the evidence from style for the 
early date of the play. Aristotle, as we have seen above (p. 112), 
tells us that "Aeschylus first introduced a second actor, diminished 
the importance of the chorus, and assigned the leading part to 
the dialogue." Now as the chief features of the Suppliants are 
the great prominence of the chorus throughout, the very subor- 
dinate part played by the rheseis of the actors, and the faint- 
ness of the character-painting of the personages not members 
of the chorus, we are led to conclude that the play must have 
been composed by Aeschylus not very long after he had made 
his first great step that of adding a second actor, and thereby 
creating a true dialogue. The prominence given to the chorus 
over the actor points to a period when as yet the drama had 
advanced but little from the stage in which Aeschylus took it 
over from Thespis, Pratinas and Phrynichus. Thus it is the 
chorus which parleys with the king of Argos, although their 
father Danaus is present at the same time, who might naturally 
have been expected to act as their spokesman. Moreover, the 
whole plot centres not on one of the actors, but upon the fate of 
the chorus of the fifty Danaids. All these considerations in- 
evitably lead to the conclusion that the play must have been 
many years earlier than the great trilogy of the Oresteia, and 
must be placed considerably earlier than any of the other extant 
plays of the poet. 

The scene, which remains unchanged throughout the play, 
lies near the coast south of Argos. In the middle of the stage 
is seen a great mound 2 , almost certainly a great sepulchre, 
probably once sacred only to the dead that lay within, but later 
shared by the gods who preside over contests, of whom Zeus, 

1 vi, 83. 

2 II. 23 sqq. : u iroXis, w 777, Kal Xewcdp vSwp. 

Siraroi re 0eoi /cat 

Kal Zeuj SWTT/P rptros /c.r.X. 

A curious parallel is offered by the tomb of Augustus in the Campus Martius: 
vvb 5 rf x^M'""' Osteal eiffiv avrov Kal ruv ffvyyevwv Kal olKfluv (Strabo, 197-9, 
ed. Didot). 


Apollo, Poseidon, and Hermes 1 are directly named. On the 
mound are xoana or wooden images of these gods. But it is 
important to note that Dionysus is not mentioned either here 
or elsewhere in the play, although an altar, which serves as the 
thymele, stands at the foot of the mound. This fact, like the 
tombs in the Persae and Choephori, certainly favours the views 
advanced in the first part of this work that Dionysus had 
originally nothing to do with the first beginnings of tragic 
choruses. The chorus of the fifty daughters of Danaus in 
Oriental attire with finely-wrought robes, forehead bands and 
veils, enter bearing in their hands fresh-plucked olive branches, 
wreathed with wool, the mark of suppliants. They recite their 
woes and the cause of their flight and invoke the aid of Argos, 
Earth and Water, the gods above, and the spirits of the dead, 
heavy in exacting vengeance, that are in their graves within the 
barrow, and finally they pray Zeus to receive the Suppliants 
and side with them against vice and violence. Then Danaus, 
who meantime has mounted the tumulus, cries to his daughters 
to be on their guard, as he sees the dust of a host approaching 
and he urges them to take sanctuary on the mound. The 
maidens immediately ascend the barrow invoking the chief gods 
whose images they behold. When the king of Argos comes, he 
asks why they have sought asylum on the mound. The king 
on hearing their tale sends Danaus to plead their cause in the 
city and bids the maidens descend from their sanctuary, but to 
leave on it their suppliant boughs and to descend into the 
alsos. Danaus comes back with the good news of his favourable 
reception. He once more mounts the barrow and gazing sea- 
wards espies the Egyptians approaching. Soon arrive the herald 
and the mariners from the Nile and once more the maidens take 
refuge on the mound and cling to the statues. The Egyptians 
have no respect for the inviolability of the place and lay hands 
on the girls to drag them away. But at this juncture the king 
of Argos once more arrives and the Egyptians depart uttering 
threats of future vengeance, and the maidens proceed to the 
city where hospitable homes await them. It is thus clear that 
this reverend mound, with its ancient dead each in his narrow 

1 ii. 193-6. 

R. T. 


cell within and with images of the gods superadded, plays an 
important part thoughout the whole action of the play. It thus 
proves that the great importance of the tomb of Darius in the 
Persae was no mere chance invention of the poet in his mature 
years, but rather a clinging to the great primitive principle out 
of which Tragedy had sprung. This sepulchre of the mighty 
dead on which were placed images of the heavenly deities 
affords an admirable parallel for what we suppose to have taken 
place at the heroum of .Adrastus in Sicyon, when the worship of 
Dionysus was superimposed upon the tomb of the hero. Further- 
more it is important to note that though Dionysus is not men- 
tioned amongst the gods whose images stand upon the barrow, 
nevertheless the altar at the foot of this mound, which almost 
certainly must belong to the gods enumerated, serves as the 
thymele around which the chorus solemnly move. Plainly 
Aeschylus did not consider it imperative in a tragedy that the 
altar round wjiich his chorus circled should be dedicated to 
Dionysus. In the Persae and the Choephori the chorus move 
simply round a dead chieftain's grave, but here in the Supplices 
is the next step, when cults of gods are superimposed on those 
of the dead and an altar or table of offerings (p. 42) is added to 
the ancient barrow. 

Now why should the gods whose images stand upon this 
barrow be termed Presidents of Contests (aywvioi) ? We saw 
above that one of the regular ways in which the mighty dead 
were honoured was by contests (dywves), whether of athletes or 
of horses. Such contests took place round or alongside of the 
barrows which covered the remains of the great departed 
(p. 36). When the worship of gods was added to that of the 
heroes, as was the case at Sicyon and at Tegea, that of Dionysus 
in the one case, that of Apollo in the other, it was but natural to 
regard these gods as presiding over the contests which took 
place close by the barrow, and thus they obtained the epithet 
" presiding at contests." In a later section I shall deal with the 
question of Sanctuaries, under which this particular mound in 
the Supplices distinctly falls, and the arguments there adduced 
will confirm the conclusion at which we have already arrived, 
that this great mound in the Supplices was certainly sepulchral. 


Yet it may be said that although the graves and worship of 
heroes play a very important rdle in the dramas of Aeschylus 
because he was a conservative and clung to the ancient beliefs 
of his race, it does not follow that this doctrine had any intimate 
connection with the origin and evolution of the tragic art, but 
was quite independent of it. To this there is a ready answer. 
It can be shown that his two younger contemporaries, Sophocles 
and Euripides, continued to the last to give great prominence 
to the doctrine of ancestor worship and the potent influence 
exercised on human affairs by the spirits of the dead, though 
with the former the purely artistic side of Tragedy reached its 
zenith, while the latter was deeply saturated by the new 
doctrines of Anaxagoras and the Sophists. 

Let us first turn to Sophocles. This man, the greatest 
dramatic artist of the ancient world, if not of all time, was the 
son of Sophilus, probably a middle-class Athenian. About 
B.C. 496-5 he was born not far from Athens, at that " white 
Colonus " which he loved so well, and which, with its golden 
crocus, its purple ivy, its green olive-tree and its nightingales, 
he has glorified for ever in the famous chorus of his Oedipus 
at Colonus. He was only a stripling and incapable of bearing 
arms at the time of the Persian invasion, but he was chosen 
for his personal beauty, and probably also from his charm of 
disposition, to lead the solemn chorus that formed part of the 
public thanksgiving for the great deliverance of Salamis. Thus 
his young imagination must have been fired and ennobled by 
the great events through which he had lived. He studied 
music under Lamprus, the rival of Pindar and Pratinas. In 
B.C. 468, when not yet twenty-eight years of age, he competed 
against Aeschylus and defeated the master. Hence- 
forward, his life was one of unceasing literary activity until he 
died, full of years, beloved and honoured of all, shortly before 
B.C. 405. He composed at least seventy tragedies and eighteen 
Satyric dramas, though, according to Suidas 1 , his dramatic 
works numbered no less than one hjindred and twenty-three 
whilst besides these he wrote elegies and paeans and is also 
said to have written a prose treatise on the Chorus. 



The actual dates of only two of his plays are known. The 
Antigone, produced shortly before the Athenian expedition to 
Samos in B.C. 440, secured his election by the democracy as one 
of the Ten Generals, but he does not seem to have had any 
military qualifications, since Pericles remarked of him that he 
was a good poet, but a poor commander. As the Antigone is 
said to have been his thirty-second play, it must be regarded as 
a work of his mature genius. The Philoctetes, produced in 
B.C. 409, is considered to be the last of his works by those 
critics who hold that the Oedipus Coloneus, though not pro- 
duced till after his death, was nevertheless written many years 
before. Both the Antigone and the Philoctetes won the first 
prize ; their author not unfrequently was second, but he was 
never third. 

His contributions to the evolution of the Tragic Art were 
the introduction of the Third Actor or Tritagonist (sometimes 
even a Fourth), and the use of painted scenery ; whilst according 
to Suidas he was the first to compete with single dramas instead 
of with tetralogies after the fashion of Aeschylus. In this, 
however, he probably only reverted to the practice of Phrynichus 
and the other early playwrights. 

Sophocles stands to Aeschylus in much the same relation as 
Shakespeare does to Marlowe. The young Cambridge scholar 
before he was twenty-nine had not only shaken off the crudities 
of the Moralities and the Histories, but had forged that "mighty 
line " which became the grand instrument of dramatic expression 
for Shakespeare and the rest. In like fashion Aeschylus had 
not only freed himself from the narrow trammels and uncouth 
imagery of the elder age, but he had also discovered once for all 
the true metre and diction for Tragic expression. Sophocles 
had only to perfect the instrument which Aeschylus had placed 
in his hands, and when in B.C. 468 he defeated his master, the 
eagle was smitten with an arrow feathered from his own wing. 

We cannot indeed point to any one of his extant plays in 
which a tomb actually appears on the stage, yet the burial rites of 
the dead and the extraordinary value attached to the possession 
of the bones of heroes form a leading feature in at least three of 


Ajax. It is a commonplace with scholars that the whole 
interest of the Ajax flags after the self-slaughter of that hero, 
for the rest of the play is taken up with wranglings as to whether 
the body of the hero shall receive due sepulture or not. It is 
only when we moderns place ourselves at the standpoint of the 
ancients and comprehend, dimly though it may be at best, the 
extraordinary importance attached by them to the due perform- 
ance of burial rites, that we can even faintly conceive how that 
tragedy could move an Athenian audience. 

Antigone. The same holds true in a large degree of the 
Antigone. The play centres round the question Is Polynices, 
who has led an army against Thebes his native city, and who 
has fallen in mortal combat with Eteocles, each brother having 
slain the other, to be allowed the rites of sepulture or shall he 
be left to birds and beasts of prey ? This theme would not 
excite much emotion in a modern audience, were it not supple- 
mented by elements that never fail to rouse the sympathy and 
pity of every human heart, the devotion of Antigone to her 
dead brother, her courage in withstanding Creon, the romantic 
love of Haemon for the heroine, her immurement in a living 
tomb by the merciless behest of Creon, Haemon's suicide when 
he finds that he is too late to rescue his betrothed from self- 
inflicted death, and finally Creon's belated repentance and 
agony, when he learns of his son's suicide. 

It is important to notice that the tomb, in which Antigone 
was buried alive and in which she strangled herself to escape 
the lingering misery devised for her by Creon, plays a very 
prominent part in the drama, although it does not actually 
appear on the scene. 

Oedipus Coloneus. But when we turn to the Oedipus at 
Colonus we find a tomb playing a still more important part, 
although it likewise does not appear on the stage. Oedipus the 
King ends with a terrible storm of anguish, shame and despair, 
when the proud monarch at last realises that he himself and no 
other is the source of the pollution which is destroying Thebes 
and the Cadmeans, that he has been the murderer of his father, 
and the consort of his own mother, and that his sons and 
daughters are his own brothers and sisters. In the Oedipus 


Coloneus the old storm-battered craft has at last reached the 
harbour's mouth, and is coming into its last haven, Colonus in 
the land of Attica. Here the blind world- worn hero is granted 
an asylum by Theseus and the men of Colonus, and he promises 
to them a guerdon for their hospitality. When the divine token 
comes to Oedipus that the closing scene is now at hand, he 
sends to the city for Theseus, and when the king arrives tells 
him that his end is near. Blind as he is, he will now lead the 
way to the sacred spot where he is to lie in death, that no one 
save Theseus himself shall know the exact place. When death 
approaches that hero, he is to reveal the site of the grave to the 
best of his sons, and he in turn to his successor. Thus secured 
from all risk of being carried off by the Thebans or any other 
enemies of Athens, the bones of Oedipus, with his spirit in close 
attendance on them, will be for Athens an ally through all time 
" worth many shielded hoplites and mercenary spearmen 1 ." 
Then the blind old man steps forth unguided by any hand, 
Theseus alone attending him. Soon the thunder of Zeus is 
heard by those who stayed behind, and presently Theseus 
returns and informs them that all is over. The old hulk so 
long tossed by the storms of calamity has found a safe mooring 
for ever. In return Oedipus will be to Attica an invincible 
guardian for all time. 

Thus then in the closing years of the fifth century B.C., when 
Socrates had been teaching for more than twenty years, when 
the Hylacists of Ionia, and the clever rhetoricians of Sicily had 
been long disintegrating old beliefs, when the stress from plague 
and war had shaken men's faith in the gods, the worship of the 
dead and reliance on the beneficial results therefrom were as 
strong as ever in the Athenian mind. Moreover it is not the 
more advanced doctrine, such as that held by Aeschylus 
respecting the detachability of the soul from the body, and 
the harmlessness of fire to the soul that is preached by 
Sophocles, but the crude ancient doctrine that every care must 
be taken to preserve the body or bones of the hero from destruc- 
tion and to guard them from the depredations of those who 
would work Athens ill. 

1 O.C. 1524-5. 


If Tragedy arose from the worship of the dead and was in 
the Greek mind closely bound up with it, we can now fully 
understand why such a consummate artist as Sophocles gave 
such prominence to the proper veneration and security of the 
tombs of the mighty ones departed, why he makes the due 
sepulture of the dead the pivot on which hangs the dramatic 
movement of the Antigone, and why he actually devotes to the 
same theme a great part of the Ajax. 

It may be said that as the grave of Oedipus was concealed 
with almost as much care as that of Moses, there could be no 
dramatic celebrations around that hero's resting-place, and that 
accordingly it may be inferred that there was really no connec- 
tion between the worship of the dead and dramatic performances. 
But to this the answer is not far to seek. The case of Oedipus 
is exactly parallel to that of Orestes 1 . Each is buried in a land 
of strangers, far from his own city and his own kindred, and the 
safe-keeping of the bones of both is essential for the weal of the 
alien land in which each lies. But it was not merely of dramatic 
performances that these heroes were deprived. No offerings of 
any kind were made at their graves. Yet it would be absurd 
to argue, that because in their cases no offerings were made at 
stated seasons, therefore there was no real connection between 
the dead and the offerings ordinarily made at graves. The 
cases of such differ essentially from those of indigenous heroes, 
who lie in the Agora or Prytaneum of their own city, secure from 
all danger of being carried off by the enemies of their land and 
race. These heroes, their families, clansmen, and citizens honour 
with rich offerings, solemn songs, and dramatic performances, as 
the years revolve. But to the friendless alien dead who lie in 
that same land and whose spirits are, as it were, in servitude, 
bound to render aid to the people who have the control of their 
remains, no one makes the offerings customary for the dead. 
They have no kindred, no clansmen. There is no one impelled 
by love or duty or family ties to make oblation to them, 
or to organise in their honour sacred dances and dramatic 

Euripides. Although Sophocles might have clung to ancient 

1 Herod, i, 67-8. 


beliefs or at least reverted to them in his extreme old age, it 
might naturally have been anticipated that Euripides, who was 
so greatly influenced by the new ideas from Ionia, would have 
paid but little heed to such mouldering beliefs and would have 
disdained to use them for dramatic purposes. The son of 
Mnesarchus or Mnesarchides and Clito, the poet was born in 
Salamis in the year some said even on the very day of the 
great battle in B.C. 480. His parents appear to have been in 
good circumstances. Of his father's calling nothing certain is 
known, though by some he is called a retail merchant. The 
Comic poets never tired of jesting at his mother Clito as a 
" greengrocer " (Xa^ai/oTreoXt?), though a good ancient authority 
denies the truth of this allegation. He is said to have been 
trained as an athlete, but seems to have had little fancy for 
such pursuits. He became a painter, and in later times pictures 
ascribed to him were shown at Megara. But the most im- 
portant part of his education was the study of rhetoric under 
the famous sophist Prodicus of Ceos, and to this circumstance 
we may attribute in part at least the love of dialectic in his 
plays. Later on he was greatly influenced by Anaxagoras of 
Clazomenae and also by Socrates. 

If Sophocles was called the " bee " on account of the sweet- 
ness of his character, Euripides on the other hand had the 
reputation of being morose and unsociable, and doubtless his 
temper was not improved by the unhappiness of both his 
marriages. His first competition, which was also his first 
victory, was with the Peliades in B.C. 455, the year after the 
death of Aeschylus. He is said to have written some seventy- 
five dramas, according to others ninety-two. His earliest extant 
play is the Alcestis (p. 54). In his later life he left Athens 
and went to the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon, who 
treated him with great distinction. The poet composed there 
plays on local topics, such as the Archelaus and the Bacchae. 
The king's favour, however, cost him his life in B.C. 406. Two 
rival poets, Arrhidaeus, a Macedonian, and Crateuas, a Thessa- 
lian, jealous of his success, by a bribe of ten minae induced 
Lysimachus, the master of the royal kennel, to set the hounds 
at him and he was torn to pieces. Archelaus had his bones 


placed in a costly tomb at Pella, whilst a cenotaph for him was 
erected at Athens 1 . 

His chief innovations in Tragedy on the formal side were 
the introduction of the melodrama in which " nobody is killed 
by anybody" and the use of set prologue-speakers. If then 
it should turn out that in some dozen of this poet's extant 
plays either a tomb is the centre of dramatic action, whether 
represented on the stage or not, or the worship of the 
dead or a funeral procession plays a leading part, we shall 
be forced to the conclusion that there must have been some 
principle of primary importance to bind tragedy so closely to 
the worship of the dead, that even the sceptic and innovator 
could not shake himself free from its bonds. This inference 
will be confirmed if we find that not merely in the forepart of 
his career before he might have been supposed to have shaken 
off the trammels of his early training, but even in his latest 
period, he places on the stage a tomb and makes it the centre 
round which pivots all the chief action of the play. 

Helena. In B.C. 412 he produced his Helena. Though 
the famous heroine had so often been reviled by the misogynous 
poet in his earlier plays, as a worthless woman who had run 
away from her husband, we find him in his later years adopting 
the view of Helen's conduct first put forward by Stesichorus. 

In one of his earlier poems probably The Destruction of 
Troy that poet had treated Helen in the conventional way as 
the guilty wife. When at a later time blindness befell him, 
convinced that the deified heroine had sent this affliction upon 
him as a punishment, he composed his famous Recantation, in 
which he declared that the Helen who had been seen in Troy 
and for whom Acheans and Trojans fought so hard and long, 
was a mere wraith ((f>d<r/j,a, et'8o>A.oz/), whilst the true Helen had 
never fled from Greece with Alexander overseas. 

Although Euripides borrowed the main idea of Stesichorus, 
and represented Helen in the play named after her as the 
model wife, he departed from the Stesichorean prototype in one 
very important particular. The plot is as follows : The true 
Helen was not carried off to Troy, but Hermes, by the direction 

1 Suidas, s.v. 


of Hera, transported her to Egypt and handed her over to the 
safe-keeping of king Proteus, who dwelt in Pharos. When the 
play opens, the old monarch is dead, and his son Theoclymenus 
wants to marry Helen. She rejects his offer and to avoid the 
violent prosecution of his suit takes refuge at the tomb of 
Proteus, which stands in front of the palace. There can be no 
doubt that the tomb of Proteus was represented on the stage. 
When Menelaus on his way home from Troy lands in Egypt 
arrives at the palace and asks who lives there, the old porteress 
at the door replies " Proteus lives here, and the land is Egypt 1 ." 
A few lines later on Menelaus asks the name of the lord of the 
palace, and she answers : " Yon is his tomb ; his son now rules 
the land." 

It is at this tomb that Menelaus first finds Helen seated as 
a suppliant and accosts her : " O thou who hast by a desperate 
struggle reached the curbstone and fire-wrought railings of this 
tomb 2 ." In another passage Helen says to Menelaus: "Thou 

1 Hel. 466 sqq. 

- Hel. 546 sqq. : <r TTJV opeyna. Seivbv i)/j.i\\rifj^vrii> 

Ttifufiov 'irl KpyirtS' /j.irtipovs r dpBoffTdras, 


Paley (ad loc.) infers that because the tomb of Proteus has a krepis, it was 
not a mere barrow or tumulus but had architectural features. But there is 
ample evidence that a stone curb or retaining wall was a regular feature round 
ancient Greek barrows, as I have shown (Early Age of Greece, vol. i, p. 119). 
Thus the famous tomb of Aepytus mentioned by Homer (II. 603-4) is described 
by Pausanias (vin, 16, 3) &rrt ntv ovv yrjs x^M a v A^y* \i6ov KpyiriSi tv K^K\if 
irepiex^/J-evov. Compare the tomb of Phocus in Aegina (Paus. u, 29. 9), that of 
Oenomaus near Olympia (id. vi, 21. 3), that of Areithous at Phoezon (id. vin, 
11. 4). All these tombs were mere barrows. The famous ring of stones on the 
Acropolis of Mycenae, which Schliemann took for the seats of the Agora, is 
better explained by Dr Tsountas as a retaining wall for the mound of earth 
raised over the graves. Without such a retaining curb barrows inevitably 
spread out at the base. Accordingly the two great Irish barrows at New Grange 
and Dowth in the Boyne valley show each such a retaining wall. 

The words tfjurtpovs T' dpffoffrdras have hitherto not been properly explained. 
Liddell and Scott, s.v. dpOoffrdrrjs, explain it as " a kind of cake used in funeral 
oblations," citing Pollux vi, 73 and a gloss of Hesychius: dpftoffrddi)- eldos 
7r^/A/uaroj, whilst s.v. ipirvpos, in reference to the same passage, they explain 
e/j.irvpovs as " of or for a burnt offering." Let us deal with the last point first. 
This explanation assumes that burnt sacrifices were offered to the dead, which 
of course is a fundamental error, since fireless offerings (rd frirvpa. lepd) were 
offered to heroes. With reference to the word dpffocrrdTas they are not more 



seest me sitting as a wretched suppliant at this tomb (ra'</>o<?). 
Here I implore escape from marriage 1 ." Menelaus asks : " Is 
it through lack of an altar or in conformity with foreign 
usage 't. " To this she answers : " This doth protect me as well 
as would the temples of the gods." It is again at this tomb 
that the Recognition takes place between husband and wife, 
when Helen has returned thither after learning from Theonoe 

happy. In the first place Pollux in the passage to which they refer, does not 
mention the word at all, but is only referring to irt\ai>oi, the usual offerings of 
the dead, whilst it is most unscientific to explain the meaning of ^oordray in 
this passage from a word of different form in Hesychius, when there is every 
possibility of explaining it from the use of the word in other passages of the 
poet's plays. Thus the posts of a great tent erected at Delphi (Ion 1134, 
dpffoffrdrais Idpijcf)' ii\iov <f>\6ya /caXws 0vXdaj) are termed dpOoffrdrai, whilst the 
same term is applied (Here. Fur. 980) there to " stone uprights" of some kind: 

6 5' ti-f\i<T<rwi> TrcuSa KLOVOS KVK\<P 

ir6pevfj.a dfivov TroS6s, ivavriov oratfeis 

(3dXXet irpds riirap- CTTTIOS 5 XcuVous 

opdoffT&Tas tSevfffv tKwviuv jttov. 

In each of these cases the word refers plainly to an upright post either of 
wood or stone. The same meaning gives an easy and rational explanation for 
the passage in the Helena. The very order of the words rvpfiov Vi KpriiriS', 
in-rrvpovs r dpOoffTdras suggests that Kprjirid' and dpOoffrdras go closely together 
and refer to the structure of the tomb. In other words the tomb has a stone 
curb or base on which stand railings or pillars. How then are we to explain 
t/jnTvpos? It simply means " wrought in the fire," i.e. made of metal, and thus 
the whole phrase may be taken as " bronze railings." fynri/pos is regularly 
applied to metal work. Thus Plato, Legg. 679 A, speaks of avceuij tpirvpa, 
" implements wrought in the fire," as opposed to TO. avvpa. In Protag. 321 E 
he terms the smith's craft i) t/j.wvpos r^x v/ n- I* would then appear that the 
tomb had a stone curb like the barrows already cited, and that it was 
surmounted by a metal railing. Such railings made of bronze and set on a 
stone curb or sill are well known in Greek temples which date back to the time 
of Euripides. Thus in the temple of Apollo at Bassae (built by Ictinus, the 
architect of the Parthenon, about B.C. 420), between the columns of the facade 
still remains a marble sill with the traces of the metal railings which closed up 
the opening between the columns and the antae. I cannot point to any clear 
instance of the use of such railings round a tomb at the same period, but as 
there was but little difference between the grave of a hero and a temple, there is 
a fair probability that such graves sometimes had railings. According to Strabo 
196, 11 (Didot), the spot in the Campus Martius where the body of Augustus was 
cremated, was enclosed by a stone curb and an iron railing : h 
8i(f) 6 rfjs Kavffrpas avrov 7rep//3oXos, ical OVTOS \l6ov \evKov KVK\<{) /J.ei> 
uv ffidrjpovv irepl<ppay/j.a, tvrbs 6' alydpois Kard(pvros. 
1 797 sqq. 


that the tale of the shipwreck and death of Menelaus brought 
by Teucer is false 1 . Thus the tomb of Proteus is the scene of 
the chief dramatic features of the play. But this is not all. 
It is not merely a convenient meeting- place : but a sanctuary as 
mighty as an altar where the weak and helpless can find asylum, 
and it is a shrine at which Menelaus prays to the spirit of the 
ancient king within : " O aged man, who dwellest in this tomb 
of stone, restore, I implore, to me that wife whom Zeus sent 
hither to you to safeguard for me 2 ." 

Just then as the Persian queen and nobles pray to the soul 
of Darius, and as Orestes and Electra invoke that of their dead 
sire to aid them in the hour of distress, so Euripides makes his 
hero rely in time of peril, not upon any god, but on the spirit of 
the ancient king, which still has vital force within the tomb 
before his palace gate. Thus then in the closing years of his 
life Euripides so far from scorning as outworn the ancient creed 
of his race, represents his hero and heroine not only as having 
resource to the protection of the old king within his grave, but 
what is still more significant, not disappointed in their hopes of 
a deliverance to be wrought by him. 

Hecuba. Some twelve or fourteen years before the appear- 
ance of the Helena, the poet in the Hecuba, one of the most 
famous of his plays, had made a tomb the central point of 
a drama. This play had certainly been brought out before B.C. 
423, for in that year it was ridiculed by Aristophanes in his 
Clouds, and not improbably still earlier, if a supposed allusion in 
the play itself (1. 649) really refers to the catastrophe suffered by 
the Spartans at Pylus in B.C. 425. The actual scene is laid 
in the Thracian Chersonese, whither the Acheans on their home- 
ward voyage after the fall of Troy had put in with Hecuba and 
the other Trojan captives. But the real interest of the play 
"centres round the tomb of Achilles at Sigeum, on which 
Polyxena, the youngest daughter of Priam and Hecuba, is 
sacrificed to the ghost of that hero. But of this sacrifice we 
shall treat at greater length below (p. 160). 

The number of extant Greek tragedies in which a tomb 
plays a prominent part is proportionately so large, that we are 

1 loc. cit. 2 961 sqq. 


justified in the inference that the tomb and the worship of the 
dead must have been closely bound up with tragedy in its first 
beginnings. This comes out with special prominence if we 
recall how rarely a sepulchre is used by the Elizabethan 
dramatists. Even when a tomb or a grave is placed before us, 
as in Romeo and Juliet or in Hamlet, it is not for the 
glorification of the heroic dead, but as in the Morality of Every- 
man, it serves to tell us that 

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 
And then is heard no more. 


Although in many tragedies no tomb is actually represented 
on the stage, nevertheless a brief examination will show that in 
its place there are often other elements intimately bound up 
with the honouring and worshipping of the dead. In every 
land under the sun throughout the ages goes up the endless 
wail of the living over the loved one, from whom life has just 
parted for ever : 

Ingemisco, ingemisco, 
Is ever a lament begun 
By any mourner under sun 
Which, ere it endeth, suits but one ? 

The anguish of the human heart finds vent and relief in tears 
and cries of sorrow, though this outward manifestation of grief 
is less demonstrative in our northern lands, where from of old 
honestum est feminis lugere, viris meminisse. Moreover when 
the dead is carried forth to the grave, and the closing scene is 
at hand, fresh onsets of grief seek outward expression in the 
beating of breasts, and in the rending of garments, commingled 
with cries and broken utterances sorrow for themselves, praise 
for the dead and the last lingering sad adieu. 

The Greeks were no exception to this general law of man- 
kind, and with them lamentation, wailing, beating of breasts, 
and rending of garments were the due meed of the dead 1 . To be 

1 Aesch. Ch. 415 sqq. 


unwept was little better than to be denied the rites of burial. 
Nor did such tokens of grief cease with the burial of the lost 
ones. Year by year when the customary solemn offerings were 
made at the sepulchre, lamentations and cries of sorrow formed 
part of the rites that were to please and propitiate the spirits of 
the departed. For as the living like not to be forgotten, so too 
is it with the dead. 

The threnos or lament for the dead we have already seen in 
Homer. Such a lament accompanied by the beating of the 
breast (KOTrreo-Qai) was termed by the Greeks of classical times 
a Kommos, which in Attic tragedy technically meant a lament 
sung alternately by one or more of the chief characters and the 
chorus 1 . If then tragedy arose in the propitiation and honouring 
of the dead, the extant Greek tragedies ought to furnish us 
with examples of this method of showing respect to the departed. 
Of these there is no lack. All of them with one exception are 
found in plays where no tomb is present on the stage. Aeschylus 
supplies us with examples both of the kommos over him who 
has just died and who is being borne to the tomb, and also of 
what may be termed the commemorative kommos, sung over 
his grave when many years have elapsed since his burial. 

Of the former kind the Seven against Thebes furnishes us 
with an admirable illustration, in the kommos sung by Antigone 
and Ismene over the body of Eteocles as it is borne back from 
the fatal combat with his brother Polynices to be buried with 
all honour in the Thebes which he had saved 2 . Antigone says 
" Thou smotest and wert smitten." Ism. " Thou slewest and 
wert slain. With the spear thou hast killed, with the spear thou 
wert killed." Antig. "Sorrow thou wroughtest ! " Ism. "Sorrow 
thou sufferedst! " Antig. " Let wailing arise ! " Ism. " Let the 
tear well forth ! " Antig. " There thou liest low ! " Ism. " Thou 
laidst thy foe low." Antig. " Alas, alas, my brain is maddened 
with laments." Ism. " My heart within me makes moan." 
Finally the body of Eteocles is carried off the stage to the grave, 
but the tomb is not seen. 

No doubt in the years that were to come periodical 

1 Arist. Poet. 12 : KO/JL/J.OS 5 ffp-fjvos KOIV&S \opov /cai curb 

2 951 sqq. 


offerings would be made at his tomb, dirges sung recounting 
how he had died for Thebes, athletic contests held in his 
honour as they were for lolaus, or a tragic chorus would represent 
his feats of arms and his victorious death. Of such a celebration 
we have a famous example in the kommos sung by Orestes 
and Electra over the grave of Agamemnon in the Choephorae 1 . 
From these two typical cases we can perfectly understand 
the nature and characteristics of such lamentations in the real 
life of every-day Athens. As the kommos is then clearly a 
portion and parcel of the worship of the dead, it was but 
natural that as Tragedy became more developed, in order to 
avoid the monotony of always having a tomb as the centre 
of action, the poet dispensed with it, but retained in its stead 
the lament for the dead in some form or other. In the plays 
of Euripides there are various examples of the kommos. Thus 
in the Suppliants 2 , when Creon denies rites of sepulture to the 
champions slain before Thebes, Adrastus goes with their wives 
and mothers to the altar of Demeter at Eleusis, and seeks the 
help of Theseus. When the latter succeeds in his efforts and 
brings back the bodies of the dead chieftains, they are brought 
on the stage to the accompaniment of a great kommos, sung 
by the chorus, which consists of the seven wives of the slain 
and their seven handmaids. Again in the Andromache 3 , though 
there is no tomb seen, there is a great kommos when the 
body of Neoptolemus, who has been murdered at Delphi, is 
brought on the stage, Peleus and the chorus making lament. 

Again in the Phoenissae, though the tomb does not appear, 
the play ends with the bringing upon the stage of the bodies 
of Eteocles and Poly n ices, and a great threnos uttered by 
Antigone over them. In the Alcestis the lament of the house- 
hold as the queen departs to death may be regarded as a 
kommos, whilst the speech of Theseus, now repentant and 
agonised, over his dead son performs a similar part in the 
Hippolytus. Again in the Troades* we have a characteristic 
example in the lament of Hecuba over -the body of the little 
Astyanax, laid out for burial in his father's shield, which is 

1 307 sqq. 2 1165 sqq. 

3 1173 sqq. 4 1166 sqq. 


followed by a kommos between her and the chorus of Trojan 

All are familiar with the Greek practice of erecting 
cenotaphs in honour of those who were lost at sea, or who for 
some other cause, as in the case of Euripides, had not received 
the due rites of sepulture at the hands of their kindred. 
Euripides instead of showing a tomb makes use of this custom 
in the Iphigenia in Tauris. Iphigenia has had a dream about 
Orestes, which has filled her with alarm. She is convinced that 
he must be dead, and accordingly she prepares, with the help 
of the chorus of Greek captives and her handmaids, to offer 
funeral libations accompanied with a threnos to propitiate his 
spirit in Hades. 

In view of these facts we may safely conclude that in the 
kommoi and threnoi of the Greek plays we have not only an 
important element in the honouring of the dead and of the 
worship at the tombs of heroes, but also one of the indigenous 
and at the same time one of the most primitive elements in 
Greek Tragedy. The threnos or dirge for the dead is familiar 
in Homer, and we know that in the hands of Pindar and other 
poets these threnoi or coronachs were elevated into a form of 
literature. Amongst the fragments of the Theban poet are 
the remains of several of his threnoi. In the kommoi of the 
tragic poets we have simply such laments utilised for dramatic 
purposes. But the threnoi of Pindar and the kommoi of the 
tragic poets merely expressed in nobler language and more 
elaborate diction those emotions of the human heart which had 
found utterance in the spontaneous rude laments of the un- 
tutored men and women of primeval Greece. But as these 
lamentations for the dead had rung out through the day and 
through the night for countless generations before Dionysus had 
ever come from Thrace, or before his cult had been established 
even in Thrace itself, the kommos cannot be regarded as an 
element of tragedy unknown in Greece until introduced in the 
ritual of the Thracian god. 

Tragedies especially suited for acting at the festivals 
of Heroes. If it could be shown that there are certain extant 
plays which seem especially fitted for performance at shrines 


of ancient heroes, these would lend further support to our 
general view of the origin of tragedy. But such dramas are 
not far to seek. 

Hippolytus. The Hippolytus will at once occur to 
students of the Greek drama. The play was brought out 
at Athens in B.C. 428. The author of the Greek argument 
states that it was the second play of that name, and that it 
was an improvement on a former one. The older was known 
as the Hippolytus KaX-uTrro/Aei/o? because at the close of the 
play the hero was brought in covered with a cloth. The extant 
play was entitled by way of distinction Hippolytus ^re<f)avia<{ 
or '%Te<f>avr)<f>6po<t because the hero offers garlands to Artemis 1 . 
These plays seem simply to have been first and second editions 
of the same piece, and not separate plays in a Trilogy. 

The scene is laid at Troezen. Hippolytus, son of Theseus 
by the Amazon Hippolyte, has been brought up by his great- 
grandfather Pittheus at Troezen. A model of chastity he 
scorns Aphrodite and devotes himself to the worship of the 
virgin huntress Artemis, by whom he is honoured with intimate, 
though invisible communion. Determined to punish Hippolytus 
for boasting superiority to the ordinary emotions of love, 
Aphrodite makes his stepmother Phaedra, daughter of Minos, 
fall in love with him. Theseus had retired from Athens to 
Troezen for a year's span in consequence of the slaying of 
Pallas and his sons, and his queen accompanied him. She 
had previously seen Hippolytus at Athens as he was going 
to Eleusis. At Troezen she now gives way to secret passion 
for him. Her nurse at last extracts from her the cause of her 
pining, and as a last hope of restoring her mistress to health 
and happiness she reveals to the young hero under an oath 
of secrecy his stepmother's love. Horrified at the disclosure 
Hippolytus withdraws from Troezen. Phaedra, on finding that 
her love has been revealed, hangs herself, but leaves behind 
a letter in which she charges Hippolytus with having made 
dishonourable overtures to her. Theseus on his return reads 
the letter and is infuriated at his son's supposed baseness and 
hypocrisy. He expends on his son one of the three curses 

1 673. 

E. T. 10 


which his father Poseidon has declared should be fulfilled, and 
banishes him for life. In deep sorrow Hippolytus turns his 
back for ever on Troezen, his dear home, and drives in his 
chariot along by the sea-shore. Suddenly Poseidon sends from 
out a great tidal wave a tauriform monster to affright the 
horses. They upset the chariot on the rocks and leave the 
young hero dying. Theseus on hearing the fatal news is filled 
with mixed feelings of sorrow and satisfaction, until Artemis 
appears and reveals the truth. Then follows the reconciliation 
between the dying youth and his penitent and distracted sire. 
Hippolytus expires, but Artemis confers on him a festival at 
Troezen for all time. 

At this town in classical and post-classical days many 
memorials of Hippolytus and Phaedra were shown. There 
was a stadium called after him. His tomb, says Pausanias 1 , 
" is a mound of earth not far from the myrtle tree," which was 
popularly believed to date from the time of Phaedra. Close 
to it was the grave of that unhappy queen. But far more 
important was the precinct of great renown consecrated to 
Hippolytus, son of Theseus. " It contains a temple and an 
ancient image. They say that these were made by Diomede, 
and that he was also the first to sacrifice to Hippolytus. There 
is a priest of Hippolytus at Troezen, who holds office for life, 
and there are annual sacrifices. Further, they observe the 
following custom : every maiden before marriage shears a lock 
of her hair for Hippolytus and takes the shorn lock and 
dedicates it in the temple 2 ." According to Pausanias the 
Athenians likewise had honoured the hero, since in front of 
the temple of Themis was "a barrow erected in memory of 
Hippolytus 3 ." 

Although we are not told by Pausanias that any ceremonies 
were performed in his time at the cenotaph of Hippolytus in 
Athens, it is probable that in earlier days sacrifices were 
annually offered, and although in a later age there may have 
been no dramatic performance or " tragic chorus " at the festival 
of the hero at Troezen, such probably formed part of the great 

1 n, 32, 4. 2 Id. ii, 32, 1-4. 3 Id. i, 22, 1. 


ceremonials at his shrine in the classical period. Euripides l him- 
self is our witness, since in the closing lines of the play he makes 
Artemis declare that she will establish for Hippolytus in the 
city of Troezen the " highest honours." " Unyoked maidens 
on the eve of their marriage shall shear their locks for him, 
and his sad story shall ever be a theme for poets." As the 
rite of shearing the hair was still observed by the Troezenian 
virgins in the days of Pausanias, Euripides beyond all doubt 
referred to an actual contemporary practice when he alludes 
to this ceremony. When therefore he speaks of poetical com- 
positions on the story of Hippolytus and Phaedra, he is almost 
certainly referring also to some form of dramatic representations 
or threnoi at the festival of the hero. The poet knew well that 
the highest honours at Troezen, as at Sicyon in the case of 
Adrastus, included dramatic representations which kept in 
continual remembrance the young hero's noble life and tragic 
fate. Nay, we may even go further and believe that Euripides 
wrote his play from the standpoint of one who was composing 
a drama to honour and propitiate the illustrious dead. 

Rhesus. Nor does the Hippolytus stand alone in this 
respect amongst the plays ascribed to Euripides. If the 
Rhesus be a genuine composition of that poet, as was held 
by all the Alexandrian critics, its conclusion offers a striking 
parallel to that of the Hippolytus. We know from tradition 
that Euripides did write a play called the Rhesus, but the 
majority of modern critics whilst admitting this historical fact, 
hold that the true play was lost, and that the drama which has 
come down to us is only a spurious imitation composed in 
a later age. The arguments urged by the critics are practically 
all subjective, each condemning the play for faults, which it is 
assumed that Euripides could not have committed, even in his 
earliest period that to which the ancient critics and the 
moderns who believe in its genuineness, assign the play. We 
need not too hastily reject the extant play as spurious. 

I Euripides has been singularly fortunate in having had so many 


1 Hipp. 1424-6 : rt/uds ftey'iaras ei> iro\ 

Kopai yap dfyyes yd/jLUv Trdpos 
Kfpovvral <roi KT\. 

10 _ 2 


of his plays handed down to posterity, a fact in no small degree 
due, as has long been recognised, to his popularity in Graeco- 
Roman and Roman times. His sententious utterances and his 
keen dialectic delighted philosophers and rhetoricians, and thus 
his plays were regularly used as texts in the schools. As his 
genuine writings thus continued to be so popular and well 
known, it is difficult to see how his real Rhesus could have been 
replaced in the many manuscripts of his works by an inferior 
and spurious play on the same subject. Bacon 1 in a famous 
passage argues that only the less valuable creations of the 
ancient world have come down to us : " For the truth is," says 
he, " that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream 
which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, 
and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid." 
But this argument has been refuted by the discoveries of the 
works of authors hitherto unknown or lost writings of others 
whose masterpieces had come down to us from antiquity. 

No matter how meritorious are the results of the labours 
of archaeologists and papyrographers, it must be confessed that 
neither the Polity of the Athenians nor the recently discovered 
work of an historian of the fourth century B.C., although 
valuable as historical documents, has much claim to literary 
merit. Bacchylides has proved very disappointing, and the 
recently discovered remains of Menander still more so, while the 
new fragments of Pindar have only furnished us with examples of 
his work far inferior to those great Epinician Odes that have 
made the Theban eagle famous through the ages. Of Herodas 
it may be said that if his writings were again lost, Greek 
literature would not be much the poorer. The verdict of men 
of culture, arrived at in the long lapse of time, has been pro- 
foundly just. Not only is it the truly great writers Homer, 
Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, Herodotus, Thucy- 
dides that have come down to us, but the best productions 
of these authors, as is clearly seen in the case of the recently 
discovered fragments of Pindar. In view of these facts it is 
hardly credible that in the manuscripts of Euripides, which 
preserved the best of the poet's writings down to our own day, 

1 The Advancement of Learning, i, 5, 3. 


the true Rhesus could have been supplanted by a spurious and 
inferior work of a later age. 

The subject of the play is Rhesus, the Thracian king, son 
of Eioneus and a Muse, or according to others, son of the 
river Strymon and the Muse. The plot follows the story told 
in the Iliad, Book x, of the coming of the Thracian hero. 
The Trojans have long looked for the arrival of Rhesus, as an 
oracle had declared that if he came the Greeks would be 
vanquished. After various incidents, the capture of Dolon, 
the entry of Odysseus and Diomede into the Thracian camp, 
the slaying of Rhesus, and the escape of the two Achean 
chiefs by giving the true watchword obtained from Dolon, 
the play ends with the lamentation of the Muse, the mother 
of Rhesus. She upbraids Athena, whose city of Athens the 
Muses had ever honoured, for ingratitude in instigating the 
deed. Finally she confers on her son Rhesus for all time 
the divine honours of a hero amongst the Thracians. It seems 
highly probable that there was some cult of Rhesus amongst 
the Edonians or other Thracians of the Strymonian region 
to which the poet is referring. As in the Hippolytus he makes 
Artemis allude to a festival and ritual in honour of the hero 
of that play which most certainly did exist at Troezen, we are 
justified in thinking that when in the Rhesus he puts in the 
mouth of the Muse the statement that she will set up a cult 
of her son amongst the Thracians, the poet is referring to some 
well-known worship of such a hero amongst the Thracians of 
his own day. Nor would there be any difficulty in his having 
knowledge of such a shrine. The subject of the play brings it 
into the same category as the Archelaus and the Bacchae. But 
even if it were written before he took up his residence at Pella, 
and of this we have no certainty, those who maintain the genuine- 
ness of the play have long pointed out that its subject may 
have been suggested to the poet by the great developments 
of Athenian commerce and colonisation in Thrace, which were 
taking place in the poet's early days, and in consequence of 
this they have dated the play about 440 B.C. But it must be 
confessed that this argument, combined with the supposed 
youthful style of the play, for placing it early rather than late 


is not sufficient to countervail that for assigning it to his 
last period when he was certainly devoting himself to native 
Macedonian themes to be acted on the spot. It seems more 
probable that Euripides was influenced by this in the choice of 
a subject, although he might well have heard of some heroum 
in honour of Rhesus from one or other of the many Athenians 
who had commercial relations with Thrace, and who had lived 

Finally, the parallel between the conclusion of this play 
and that of Hippolytus is in favour of the genuineness of the 
Rhesus. If our theory of the origin of tragedy is true, we can 
understand the introduction of the reference to the establish- 
ment of a cult of a hero which has seemed so out of place to the 
critics. But if the play is the work of a far later age, it is not 
at all so likely that the playwright would have introduced such 
a conclusion, rather than one more in accordance with the con- 
ventional ideas of a later period. As it stands the play is 
admirably adapted for an age when it was still generally felt 
that the true object of such works was the propitiation of heroes 
at their shrines. No more fitting piece than the Rhesus could 
be found for the glorification and propitiation of the spirit 
of Rhesus at his shrine in Thrace. 


Since the tomb played so prominent a part in many of 
the tragedies of the three great dramatists, it would be indeed 
strange if the ghosts of departed heroes and of others did 
not form an element in dramatic representations, especially 
as the Greeks had no hesitation in representing in any form 
of art the shadowy forms of the departed, provided this was 
done with due limitations, to which we shall presently refer. 

Three extant tragedies present us with examples of ghosts 
introduced as part of the dramatic machinery, though the r61es 
played by them in the several plays differ widely in importance. 
The three plays are the Persae and the Eumenides of Aeschylus 
and the Hecuba of Euripides. How Sophocles treated ghosts 
dramatically we have no means of judging, for no spectral 
personage appears in any of his extant works. 


The Persae. As we have already seen (pp. 113-9), the 
whole action of this play, as far as it can be said to have 
any, centres round the tomb of Darius. But the grave does 
not form a mere pivot for the dramatic movement, it has a 
far greater importance. From it rises up the ghostly presence 
of the great monarch who had organised the Persian empire. 
His queen and the Persian elders in their perplexity and 
sorrow have invoked his aid, and it is his soul, revivified for 
the time by the drink-offerings poured into his tomb, which 
plays the leading r61e in the concluding part of the drama by its 
recital of the building of the empire, by its prediction of the 
disaster that the Persians are to sustain at Plataea, and finally 
by its directing the queen and the magnificoes to follow a policy 
by which Persia may avoid similar catastrophes in the future. 

The Eumenides. In the Persae the poet employs the 
ghost to aid the dramatic action, but the ghost is in no wise 
detached from the grave where the remains of its carnal 
tabernacle are entombed. In the Eumenides he introduces 
the ghost of Clytemnestra with awful effect, as the spectral 
shape of the murdered mother, herself a murderess, appears 
from above the scene to hound on the Erinyes and to upbraid 
them for their slackness in the pursuit of Orestes. Though 
Clytemnestra's body lies far away in Argolis, the poet does not 
hesitate to detach her ghost from close attendance on her 
mortal remains and to represent it as coming to Athens to see 
that vengeance is wreaked upon her son. 

The Hecuba. In the Eumenides the treatment of the 
ghost is very different from that of the spectral form of Darius 
in the Persae. Euripides goes still further in dealing with the 
ghost of Polydorus in the Hecuba, for the spectre of the ill- 
fated prince plays neither a leading role, as does that of Darius, 
nor is it introduced to heighten dramatic effect, as is that of 
Clytemnestra. The phantom of the murdered youth is only 
one of the puppet-speakers of the Euripidean prologues, so 
bitterly satirised by Aristophanes in the Frogs through the 
mouth of Aeschylus. 

The Acheans on their departure from Troy had put into 
the Thracian Chersonese carrying with them Hecuba and the 


other captive Trojan women. The ghost of Polydorus appears 
hovering over the tent of Agamemnon, in which is his mother ; 
he details how he, the youngest son of Priam and Hecuba, too 
young to take part in the defence of Troy, had been sent by 
his father across to his guest-friend Polymnestor, the chief 
of the Thracian Chersonese, and that with him was secretly 
despatched a great store of gold, in order that if things went 
ill with Troy, Priam's surviving children might not want. The 
boy was kindly treated so long as Troy held out, but as soon 
as Hector fell and all was lost, the guest-friend changed. 
Thirsting for the Trojan gold he scrupled not to murder his 
young ward and to cast his body without funeral rites into the 
sea. For a long time it has now been tossing to and fro in 
the currents of the Hellespont. For the last three days the 
Acheans have been encamped on the Thracian shore, stayed in 
their homeward course by the phantom of Achilles, which had 
appeared from his tomb and demanded, as his share of the 
spoil, that Polyxena, Hecuba's youngest daughter, should be 
sacrificed on his grave. Polydorus has been hovering over the 
tent of Agamemnon, but he will now show himself to his 
mother that his body may at last receive due burial rites. 

It might be held by a superficial student that in these 
three plays we can trace the gradual extension of the use for 
artistic purposes of such unearthly adjuncts. It might be 
urged that whilst in the Persae the poet, in conformity to the 
ancient belief, employs the ghost to aid the dramatic movement 
without detaching it from the grave, wherein rest its material 
relics, in the latter part of his life he had advanced far beyond 
the limits of the crude old doctrine that the ghost keeps close 
to the spot where the body lies, and that this is clearly shown 
by the Eumenides. In that play the ghost of Clytemnestra 
appears far away from her grave in Argolis, revivified by no 
libations or prayers of invocation, like that of Darius, but fired 
into living force by a fierce wrath against her son. Finally 
it might be said that Euripides, under the disintegrating causes 
which were destroying ancient beliefs, had abandoned all the 
old conventional notions respecting disembodied spirits, and 
that he had therefore no hesitation in using the ghost of 


Polydorus as a mere piece of mechanism to supply the audience 
with what corresponded to a modern programme of the play. 

But the use made of the ghost in each play is not purely 
arbitrary, for in each case the dramatist has not overstepped 
the strict limits imposed by the popular beliefs respecting the 
spirits of the dead. In the case of Darius it would have been 
impossible for Aeschylus to represent his spirit as coming to 
Athens far away from the last resting-place of his body, or 
hovering, like the ghost of Polydorus over the tent of Aga- 
memnon in the Hecuba. The great and good king has been 
gathered to his fathers full of years and honour in the due 
course of nature. The last rites had been paid to his re- 
mains, and the full meed of ceremonial pomp had been offered 
at the closing scene. Thus his soul had been enabled without 
let or hindrance to find entrance into the Spirit-land beyond 
the tomb, there to be honoured amongst the dead. His parting 
words indeed, as his spirit returns to the abode of disembodied 
souls, are pitched in the same sad note as those addressed by 
the shade of Achilles to Odysseus, when the latter had fared 
in his black ship to the asphodel mead away in the shadowy 
West beside the Ocean stream. " Speak not comfortably to me 
of death, O glorious Odysseus ! Thrice rather would I be 
a hireling and toil for a lackland, hard-pinched wight than 
be king of all the dead ! 1 " Though Darius refers to his existence 
in the other world in the same joyless tone as Achilles, yet 
when all is said and done, the Persian king enjoys the best 
that can fall to human souls beneath the earth, for he himself 
declares that he is held in honour and treated as a prince. To 
have represented the soul of such a hero as capable of being 
detached from its mortal relics and as wandering at will through 
space, would have been blasphemous in the eyes of the Greeks, 
for this was the fate of those who had lived evil lives and died 
in their sins. 

Plato in the Phaedo gives us what was probably in the 
main the ordinary theory of ghosts, although at the same time 
he engrafts on it the Theory of Ideas. Philosophy, says he, 
partially liberates the soul even in a man's lifetime, purifying 

1 Od. xi, 488 sqq. 


his mind. This is evidently no new idea of Plato himself, for 
he compares the action of Philosophy to that of the Orphic 
mysteries, which purged the mind from the contagion of body 
and sense. If such purification has been fully achieved, the 
mind of the philosopher is at the moment of death thoroughly 
severed from the body, and passes clean away by itself into 
commerce with the ideas. On the contrary the soul of the 
ordinary man, which has undergone no purification and remains 
in close implication with the body, cannot get completely 
separated even at the moment of death, but remains encrusted 
and weighed down by bodily accompaniments, so as to be unfit 
for those regions to which mind itself naturally belongs. Such 
impure souls are the ghosts or shades which wallow round 
tombs and graves, and which are visible because they have 
not departed in a state of purity, but are rather charged full 
of the material and corporeal. They are thus not fit for 
separate existence, and return into fresh bodies of different 
species of men or animals. 

The Hindus of to-day practically have the same belief, for 
they hold that the souls of those who die in a state of impurity 
or by violent deaths become bhuts, or malevolent demons. Such 
a soul reaches an additional grade of malignity, if it has been 
denied proper funeral ceremonies after death. 

Identical with this is the mediaeval and modern European 
belief that ghosts are the spirits of those who have been 
murdered or otherwise cut off suddenly in their sins. The 
agonised complaint of Hamlet's father testifies to this: 

"Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, 
Unhousel'd, disappointed, unaueal'd ; 
No reckoning made, but sent to my account 
With all nay imperfections on my head ; 
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible! 1 " 

In the Clytemnestra of the Eumenides Aeschylus has given 
us what is in some respects a parallel to the ghost in Hamlet. 
The murderess, who up to the moment of her death had con- 
tinued to live with her blood-stained paramour, had certainly 

1 Hamlet, Act i, So. 5. 


been cut off in the blossoms of her sin, with all her imper- 
fections on her head. Moreover, criminal as she was, she 
herself had met the bitter doom of death from the son 
that she had borne and carried at her breast. According 
to the belief of the Tegeatans the spirit of Scephrus, when 
slain by his brother Limon, could not rest but became a 
malignant demon bringing blight and barrenness on the land, 
until vengeance was taken on his brother and peculiar honours 
recalling his own murder and the punishment of the murderer 
were annually paid. Thus every Athenian present in the 
theatre believed that there was good reason why the spirit 
of Clytemnestra could not rest, but wandered far from the last 
abode of her body as a malignant spirit thirsting for vengeance 
on her son. 

Accordingly when Aeschylus thus detached the ghost 
of Clytemnestra from her place of sepulture and introduced 
it with splendid effect in his drama, he was not merely 
following the bent of his genius and working a great artistic 
idea, but at the same time he was also keeping within the 
strict bounds of the orthodox doctrine respecting the spirits 
of those who had wrought great crimes and had been cut off 
in their sins. 

We have now had examples of two types of ghosts that 
of the great man, who had died in the odour of sanctity, full 
of years and honour : and that of a great sinner, who had met 
in a violent death at the hands of her own son the due reward 
of her crimes. In the remaining example we have a third 
type that of the ghost of an innocent victim of a base crime, 
whose body has been denied due rites of sepulture, flung out 
to the winds and waves " without lament, without a grave," 
in Shakespearean language, " unhousel'd, disappointed, un- 
aneal'd." It is thus debarred from sinking to rest once for all in 
the abode of spirits, never to reappear except in response to the 
prayers of those it loved, as in the case of Darius. Until due 
rites of burial shall have been given, his ghost will keep wandering 
as it lists to and fro detached from the festering corpse that 
still lies in the surge of the Thracian sea. Thus Euripides 
when he introduces the ghost of Polydorus as a prologue- 


speaker, makes the ghost only do what, according to popular 
belief, was quite within the bounds of possibility. 

In the cases of Clytemnestra and Polydorus the ghosts are 
represented as appearing over the top of the scene. But if 
the spectre of Darius had appeared in the same quarter, as 
is held by some and thought possible by all writers on the 
Greek tragedy, and not as rising out of his tomb in answer 
to the libations and evocative prayers of his wife and the 
Persian lords, it would have been an outrage on the most 
sacred beliefs of the time respecting the condition of the noble 
army of the holy dead. 

In the extant Greek tragedies there is a fourth ghost that 
of Achilles in the Hecuba of Euripides which appears like 
that of Darius from the top of the tomb. But though it plays 
a leading part in the development of the plot, it does not 
appear on the stage, and therefore it will be more appropriately 
treated in the section on Human Sacrifice (p. 160). 


Libations. We have seen incidentally that the ordinary 
fashion in which the living sought to honour and please the dead, 
more especially the mighty dead, was by pouring drink offerings 
(n-fc'Xai/o?, /j,i\iyfji,aTa, %oat) into a hole beside or actually 
communicating with the interior of the tomb. Of references 
by the tragedians to this practice we have already had good 
examples in the Choephori and the Persae, whilst Sophocles 1 
and Euripides 2 frequently allude to such offerings made to the 
dead. For example, Eurystheus in the Heracleidae is made to 
say : " Suffer them not to let libations of blood trickle into my 
grave." Perhaps the most familiar form of such propitiatory 
drink offerings is the Athenian practice of pouring oil upon the 
grave-stones of their relations and others. Another method 
of honouring more especially the illustrious dead was by 
contests of naked athletes and horses near to or around the 

1 Antig. 431, 902 ; EL 440 etc. 

2 Heracl. 1040 sqq. ; cf. Troad. 381 sqq. ; El. 90 ; Or. 96, 113 etc. ; Ph. 940; 
Iph. T. 61, 160 ; Ale. 854 etc. 


tomb, as in the case of lolaus at Thebes. To this practice 
there seems to be a reference in at least one extant tragedy. 
In the Troades 1 of Euripides, Astyanax, Hector's son, has by 
a common resolve of the Greeks before they fired Troy been 
flung from the battlements of that city over which, under 
happier fates, he might have ruled. His mother, Andromache, 
has already been carried off to Thessaly by Neoptolemus. But 
the innocent's mangled body is handed over to his grand- 
mother and the other Trojan women to receive the last 
rites. As he lies in his father's shield Hecuba utters over 
him a touching speech : " ' Grandam,' thou used to say, ' In 
sooth I shall cut off in your honour a great lock from my curls, 
and I shall bring a band of my comrades to visit your grave.'" 

But in four of the extant dramas of Euripides, goddesses 
and heroes cannot be appeased with ordinary offerings, but 
demand the living blood of a human victim. 

The Iphigenia in Tauris. In the Tauric Chersonese 
it wasj;he custom to sacrifice all strangers at the shrine of 
a heroine or goddess, whom the Greeks identified with their 
own Artemis. Orestes and Pylades went to that land in search 
of Iphigenia. They were captured and doomed to be sacrificed 
and that too by the very hand of Iphigenia herself, who as 
priestess of the goddess has to carry out her hideous rites. 
Brother and sister are made known to each other, and instead 
of sacrificing Orestes and his faithful friend, she aids them 
to escape and herself accompanies them. There is thus nothing 
to harass the mind of the spectator, but the other three dramas 
in which human sacrifice is a principal feature are not mere 
melodramas, for in two of them at least the horrible sacrifice is 
offered to the dark being that cries out for human blood, whilst 
in all three cases the victim is a helpless, hapless maiden. 

The Heracleidae. In this play, the date of which is 
unknown but placed by some as late as 418 B.C., though 
regarded by others as amongst Euripides' earlier productions, 
the sacrifice of Macaria, daughter of Heracles, to Demeter is 
the turning-point in the play. 

On the death of Heracles, Eurystheus had not only banished 
1 1182-3. 


the hero's children from Argolis, but by threats and superior 
power had brought about their exclusion from all the various 
petty states of Greece in which they had sought refuge. lolaus, 
the nephew and comrade of Heracles, brings the persecuted 
family to Athens, imploring the aid of Demophon, the son 
of Theseus, who then reigned there. The herald of Eurystheus 
arrives to claim the refugees, but the Athenian king refuses 
to surrender them, in spite of the threats of war. The Argive 
host soon appears on the borders of Attica, and Demophon 
prepares to meet it. But he finds it laid down by an 
oracle as a condition of success that he must sacrifice to 
Demeter the best-born maiden. Thereupon Macaria, daughter 
of Heracles, offers herself as a willing victim. The armies 
meet, and the Argives are defeated. Eurystheus is captured 
and brought before Alcmena, Heracles' mother, to receive his 
doom. The horror of this sacrifice is in some degree mitigated 
by the spontaneous self-devotion of Macaria. But this element 
is lacking in the two remaining cases. 

Iphigenia at Aulis. This play was brought out after the 
author's death. It opens with the detention by contrary winds 
of the Greek fleet at Aulis. The seer, Chalcas, has declared 
that Iphigenia must be sacrificed to Artemis in fulfilment of 
Agamemnon's vow, that he would offer to that goddess the 
most beautiful thing which the year of Iphigenia's birth had 
produced. Menelaus persuades the reluctant father, and Aga- 
memnon sends a letter to Clytemnestra bidding her come with 
Iphigenia in order that the latter may be married to Achilles. 
But the father soon repents and sends another letter revoking 
the former, but this second letter is intercepted by Menelaus, 
who upbraids his brother with his weakness. The brothers part 
in anger. At this juncture Clytemnestra and her daughter 
suddenly arrive. At the sight of the maid Menelaus is 
softened, but Agamemnon points out to him that the host 
cannot be so easily put off, since with Chalcas and Odysseus 
at their head they are clamouring for the sacrifice, and he 
himself may fall a victim to the unreasoning fury of the 

Agamemnon then has a meeting with Clytemnestra and 


Iphigenia, and urges his wife to return to Argos, but she 
refuses. At this moment Achilles, all unconscious of the 
pretended marriage, enters to inform Agamemnon of the dis- 
content of the army at the long delay ; his own Myrmidons are 
getting out of hand. To his astonishment Clytemnestra accosts 
him as her son-in-law, and thereupon explanations ensue. The 
old servant from whom Menelaus had taken the second letter 
now reveals the truth, and Achilles promises to do his best 
to save the maiden. At this juncture Agamemnon comes in 
and Clytemnestra tells him that she herself is aware of his 
real object. Iphigenia now knows all and implores her father 
to spare her, carrying in her arms her infant brother Orestes. 
But Agamemnon relents not. Necessity knows no law. 
Achilles arrives flying from his enraged followers who are 
resolved to have the maiden's blood. Iphigenia now resolves 
to devote herself, and avows her resolution to die, in order that 
it may be said, " This woman saved Hellas." A procession is 
formed to the altar of Artemis. The epilogue as it now stands 
describes the miraculous substitution of a deer by Artemis 
as a victim and the translation of Iphigenia to the Tauric 
Chersonese. In this play there is a partial mitigation of the 
horror by the final self-devotion of Iphigenia, though not to 
such an extent as in the Heracleidae. 

There can be little doubt that the play was composed at 
the close of the poet's life. But as it was not brought out till 
after his death, the epilogue may have been the work of some 
later hand, who wished to give the play a happy ending, a fate 
which befell King Lear at the hands of Nahum Tate. But even 
if it be granted that the epilogue as it stands was written at 
a later date, it may very well embody the poet's idea. To 
have given the play a happy ending would have been quite 
in keeping with his love of melodrama, as evidenced by the 
Alcestis and the Helena. As in the later period of his life 
he abandoned the time-honoured form of the story of Helen 
and adopted that of Stesichorus, so in the same period he may 
have wished to retain the chief part of the story, but to strip 
it of its cruel traditional ending, as it was known to Aeschylus 
and the rest of antiquity. We shall soon see that although 


in the first part of the fourth century B.C. there were not 
wanting those in Greece, even amongst her noblest, who were 
ready to resort in times of stress to human sacrifice, there were 
nevertheless others openly ready to withstand such attempts 
and to denounce them as hateful to the All -Father. 

The Hecuba. In this play, which was certainly composed 
before 423 B.C. (in which year it was ridiculed in the Clouds), 
the tomb of Achilles though not actually seen on the stage is 
the central point of the tragic interest. But this grave was no 
mere figment of Euripides or any other poet. The Greeks of 
all periods believed that a great barrow which stood close by 
the sea near Sigeum was the veritable tomb of the Achean 
hero 1 . This great sepulchre by the sea is celebrated in a 
picturesque little poem in the Greek Anthology 2 : 

" Tis brave A.chilles' barrow ; th' Acheans reared it high. 
For Trojans yet unborn a terror ever nigh ; 
It looketh toward the shingle that still the moaning surge 
For sea-sprung Thetis' scion shall sing a glorious dirge." 

Whether Achilles lay within or not, tradition had long 
identified it with that hero. At the time when Alexander 
marched to the conquest of the East it was the practice to 
honour the great Achean by foot-races and offerings also. 
The visit of the great Emathian conqueror to the spot is not 
the least picturesque incident in his wonderful career. When 
the army, destined to subdue all Asia as far as the Indus, had 
been assembled at Pella and made its way to Sestos, leaving 
Parmenio to superintend the embarkation, Alexander himself 
went down to Elaeus at the southern end of the Thracian 
Chersonese. Here stood the chapel and sacred precinct of 
the hero Protesilaus, who according to legend was the first of 
the Greeks to leap on Trojan soil, where he straightway met his 
fate at the hands of Hector. Alexander made offerings to the 
hero, praying that his own disembarkation might have a happier 
issue. He then sailed across in the admiral's trireme, steering 
with his own hand, to the landing-place near Ilium, called the 
Harbour of the Acheans. In mid-channel he sacrificed a bull 

1 It was explored by Schliemann in 1879 (Troja), pp. 244 sqq. 
* vn, 142. 


with libations out of a golden goblet to Poseidon and the 
Nereids. Himself too in full armour was the first, like 
Protesilaus, to leap on the strand of Asia, but no Hector was 
there. Thence he mounted " wind-swept Ilium," and sacrificed to 
Athena, dedicating in her shrine his own panoply and taking in 
exchange some of the arms said to have been worn by the heroes 
of the Trojan War. These he caused to be carried along with 
him by his guards in his subsequent battles. He visited the 
supposed palace of Priam and the altar of Zeus Herceius, at 
which that unhappy old king was slain by Neoptolemus. As 
the latter was his own ancestor, Alexander felt himself to be 
the object of Priam's unappeased wrath, and accordingly made 
offering to his spirit at the same altar for the purpose of ex- 
piation and reconciliation. But what is much more important for 
our immediate purpose, the pupil of Aristotle next proceeded 
to the great barrow of Achilles and anointed with oil the pillar 
upon it, and with his companions all naked, as was the custom, 
he raced up to it and crowned it with a chaplet, exclaiming how 
blest was Achilles, who in life had a most faithful friend and in 
death had his exploits sung by a mighty bard 1 . 

The Acheans after the fall of Troy on their homeward 
voyage put into the Chersonese with their captives, Hecuba and 
the other Trojan women. The afflicted queen and mother had 
not yet drunk the cup of woe to the dregs, some bitter drops 
still remained. The Hecuba opens with the announcement of 
a new sorrow. The ghost of Achilles had appeared from his 
barrow at Sigeum and stayed the home-bound host of the 
Acheans, demanding as his share of the spoil of Troy Polyxena, 
the virgin daughter of Priam and Hecuba. After debate it has 
been resolved by the Achean host that the demand of the 
wraith must be gratified, and Polyxena slaughtered at the 
"high barrow" of the hero by his son Neoptolemus. Odysseus 
comes to announce the decision to the distracted mother, and 
Polyxena is torn from her arms. The ghastly offering to the 
dead must be made, and the damsel is led away to be slaughtered 
on the grave. 

Of course the dreadful scene was not represented on 

1 Plut. Alex. 15; Arrian, Anab. i, 11; Justin, xi, 5. 
R. T. 11 


the stage, any more than the actual murder of her children 
by Medea. But nevertheless the chief pathos of the play 
centres round the tomb. The herald Talthybius, when all the 
horror is over, comes to bid her mother give burial rites to 
her daughter, whose warm pure blood has been poured upon 
Achilles' tomb. The herald details the terrible scene. In front 
of the barrow stood the Achean host. Neoptolemus took the 
noble maiden by the hand and led her to the summit of the 
howe, and with him went none but the chieftains, the herald 
himself and some chosen youths, whose horrid task was to 
restrain the struggles of the victim. The herald proclaimed 
silence to the host, and then Neoptolemus raised on high a 
golden cup and prayed to his father that he would receive the 
propitiatory libation and " come to drink the dark fresh blood 
of the maiden " ; that his wrath may thus be assuaged, and that 
he will permit the Acheans to loose from their moorings and 
fare homeward. As he prayed, the whole of that great host 
repeated the response. Then he drew from its scabbard a gold- 
mounted sword, and made a sign to the chosen youths to seize 
the maid. She saw the sign and said: "O ye Argives, that have 
destroyed my native land, willingly I die. Let no one touch 
me, for with good courage I will lay bare my neck. In heaven's 
name leave me free that thus in freedom I may die, for a 
king's daughter I am. It shames me to be called a slave 
amongst the dead." The hosts murmured in assent and king 
Agamemnon bade the young men loose her. As soon as she 
heard the order, she rent her vest and laid bare her neck and 
breast, beautiful as though wrought in marble, and invited 
Neoptolemus to deal the fatal blow. He, though faltering 
for pity of the maid, dealt her the death stroke. 

It may be possible to see in the treatment of human sacrifice 
in these three plays a gradual movement in the poet's mind, 
which perhaps was the reflection of the general tendency of 
the day. In the Hecuba, which may very well be the earliest 
of the three, there is little or no mitigation of the horror. 
Polyxena indeed is not slaughtered before the audience, but 
Talthybius gives a minute and graphic picture of the dreadful 
spectacle. As has been well remarked, it is only in the willing 


resignation and noble resolution with which Polyxena meets her 
fate that we have any alleviation of the pain which we feel in 
common with Hecuba. 

In the Heracleidae, which may very possibly be some years 
later than the Hecuba, the pity and horror excited in the 
audience is mitigated by the spontaneous self-devotion of 
Macaria, who in order to save her brothers and sisters offers 
herself, all unprompted, as a willing victim. 

In the Iphigenia, which is beyond all doubt the latest of the 
three, if the epilogue was either composed by Euripides himself, 
or, though written at a later date, embodied his own ending, we 
have not merely a substantial mitigation of the horror, but in 
the happy ending find a tragedy turned into a melodrama. The 
feelings of the audience have indeed been harried by the vain 
pleading of the maiden for pity, and they have seen her depart 
in the procession to be the victim on the altar of Artemis. But 
there is no description of the closing scene. On the contrary, 
instead of a messenger coming and describing her sacrifice, the 
epilogue gives instant relief to the high- wrought feelings of the 
spectators by announcing that the goddess has at the last 
moment found a deer as a substitute, as Jehovah supplied a 
ram in the story of Abraham and Isaac. 

It may be urged that although human sacrifices had been 
commonly offered in all parts of Greece by them of old time to 
angry deities and to the spirits of the savage dead, yet at the 
date when Euripides introduced such themes into his plays, he 
was only reviving for dramatic purposes the shadowy traditions 
of a long vanished past. But was this really so ? It is easy to 
show that human sacrifices, such as those dramatised by Euripides, 
were actually performed within historic times in Greece. Thus 
in the First Messenian War, Aristodemus, the Messenian hero, 
offered his daughter in sacrifice, as did Agamemnon in the 
Iphigenia. Again Aristomenes, the bulwark of Messenia in 
her second struggle against Sparta, is said to have sacrificed 
five hundred prisoners to the deity of Mount Ithome, whom the 
Greeks of a later age designated as Zeus. But it may be said 
that these occurred at a period which can hardly be called 
classical. Yet down to the second century after Christ the 



Lycaean Mount in Arcadia was year by year the scene of a 
horrid rite, the foundation of which was ascribed to the ancient 
king Lycaon. To propitiate the dark spirit of the spot he sacri- 
ficed to it a human babe on the altar, which in later times was 
termed that of Lycaean Zeus. "And they say that immediately 
after the sacrifice Lycaon was turned into a wolf 1 ." 

" On the topmost peak of the mountain," says Pausanias 2 , 
" is the altar of Lycaean Zeus in the shape of a mound of earth. 
On this they offer secret sacrifices to Lycaean Zeus, but I did 
not care to pry into the details of the sacrifice. Be it as it is 
and as it has been from the beginning." But it may be urged 
that although in wild and savage Arcadia and in Messenia 
human sacrifice might be practised, yet in the more advanced 
communities of Hellas Athens, Thebes or Sparta such awful 
rites had ceased from a remote age. Yet we must sorrowfully 
confess that the facts of history are against this idea. Of all 
the great names connected with the story of the glorious rise of 
Athens, that of Themistocles stands first. It was he who fore- 
saw the possibility of a naval dominion for Athens, and that the 
time was not far distant when she might have to depend for 
safety on her "wooden walls," and it was his wisdom and 
eloquence that persuaded the Athenians to expend on the 
building of a navy the silver of the mines of Laurium, 
hitherto squandered in popular doles. When the stress and 
panic of Xerxes' invasion fell upon the Greeks, it was he who 
counselled them to meet the Persian fleet at Artemisium, and 
it was his energy and surpassing ability that induced the allied 
squadrons to make that stand in the narrow strait of Salamis 
that wrought the salvation of Greece. Yet on the very eve of 
that great day this man, the foremost of his age, brave in battle 
as wise in council, offered three Persian captives to Dionysus 
the Cannibal 3 . But it was not merely the highest minds of 
the first part of the fifth century B.C. that were ready to resort 
to human sacrifice in seasons of danger and anxiety. On 
the eve of the battle of Leuctra in B.C. 371 the Spartan and 

1 Paus. vm, 2, 3. 2 vin, 38, 7. 

3 Plut. Pelop. 20 sq. : TOI)J VTTO Qf/j,iffTOK\tovs fffayiaffOtvras <l}/j.rj(rTrj kiovvvy 
irpb TTJs tv ~2,a.\afuvi 


Theban armies lay right opposite each other. In the plain of 
Leuctra were the graves of the daughters of Scedasus, who were 
called the Maids of Leuctra, for on that spot they had been 
outraged and done to death by Spartan strangers, and there 
too were they buried. Their father went to Sparta demanding 
retribution, but failed to get any atonement for this atrocious 
crime. He returned home and calling down curses upon the 
Spartans, he slew himself upon his daughters' grave. Oracles 
and old saws had warned the Spartans to beware of the wrath 
of the Maidens of Leuctra, though there was a doubt as to what 
place was meant, since there was a little seaside village of that 
name in Laconia, and a large town in Arcadia. It was many a 
year before the battle of Leuctra that the outrage was perpe- 
trated. On the night before that decisive struggle, Pelopidas 1 , ' 
the liberator of Thebes, and one of the loftiest spirits of ancient 
Greece, was sore troubled by a vision. He dreamed that he 
saw the daughters of Scedasus wailing round their graves and 
hurling malisons against the Spartans, and that Scedasus called 
upon him for the sacrifice of a fair-haired virgin (TrapOevov 
J-avOrjv) to his daughters, if he wished for victory on the 
morrow. Perturbed by this strange and unrighteous behest, 
he arose and told his vision to the soothsayers and his fellow 
generals. Some held that he must not disregard it, and 
adduced precedents from olden time, such as the sacrifice of 
Menoeceus, the son of Creon, and of Macaria. the daughter of 
Heracles, and in modern times that of Pherecydes the 
philosopher, put to death by the Spartans, and whose skin 
in obedience to an oracle was carefully kept by the Spartan 
kings. They pointed out also how Leonidas had sacrificed him- 
self to save Hellas. Moreover, said they, Themistocles offered 
human victims to the Cannibal Dionysus before the battle of 
Salamis. In all these cases, they asserted, success had justified 
the deed. On the other hand there was the case of Agesilaus, 
who when starting like Agamemnon from Aulis to Asia, though 
the goddess claimed his daughter as a victim, had refused to 
offer her up. His tender-heartedness eventuated in the disgrace 
and defeat of his expedition. But others sought to dissuade 

1 Plut. Pelop. 21 sqq. 


Pelopidas from this course, urging that no celestial being desired 
so barbarous and revolting a sacrifice. " The world," cried they, 
" is not ruled by Giants and Titans, but by the Father of all, 
both gods and men. Just as foolish was it to suppose that the 
spirits (8ai/j,oves) took delight in human blood and gore. If 
there are such, we must disregard them as being impotent, for 
it is in consequence of the feebleness and wretchedness of their 
souls that such outrageous and savage desires are implanted 
and abide in them." As the captains were thus disputing and 
Pelopidas was sore perplexed, a filly from a troop of horses came 
galloping through the army, and halted right before the chiefs. 
Her bright yellow mane and tail, her fine action, her high spirit, 
and her bold whinnying were manifest to all. Theocritus the 
prophet took all in at a glance, and cried to Pelopidas, " Here is 
the victim that thou wantest. Why wait for another virgin ? 
Take thou and use God's gift." In a trice they seized the poor 
filly, led her to the maidens' barrow, recited over her the prayer 
of consecration, crowned her with a garland, and cut her in pieces. 
With a deep sense of relief, they spread through the camp the 
news of Pelopidas' dream and how they had offered the sacrifice. 
We abhor all animal sacrifice as we think of the beautiful 
chestnut 1 filly, at one moment exulting in her youth and 
freedom, next seized by a grim band of high-wrought men, 
and slaughtered on the maidens' grave. But all honour to 
the good seer Theocritus, whose righteous heart and quick 
wit in pointing out a substitute, beyond all doubt averted 
the sacrifice of some noble yellow-haired Theban maiden. Had 
he not pointed to the filly, a deed as dreadful as the legendary 
immolation of Iphigenia by the fear-ridden kings at Aulis would 
have been wrought. The poor filly by her untimely death re- 
deemed from slaughter a more precious life, as in the epilogue 
of the Iphigenia that heroine was saved by the miraculous sub- 
stitution of a deer. No wonder that Lucretius burst into fierce 
denunciations against the ancient creed which manifested itself 
in such deeds as these : 

quod contra saepius ilia 
religio peperit scelerosa atque inipia facta. 
1 Bidgeway, Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse, p. 300. 


Aulide quo pacto Triveai uirginis aram 
Iphianassai turparunt sanguine foede 
ductores Danaum delecti prima uirorum 1 . 

From the evidence just adduced there can be no doubt that 
even in the fifth and fourth centuries before Christ, the foremost 
minds in the leading states of Greece were ready to resort to 
human sacrifice in times of exceptional anxiety and peril. 
Accordingly when Aeschylus referred to the sacrifice of 
Iphigenia, Sophocles to that of Menoeceus, and Euripides 
made such offerings the leading theme in three of his extant 
plays, they were not alluding to or utilizing for mere dramatic 
effect a practice from which the Greek conscience had long 
revolted and which only survived in old wives' legends. 
Aeschylus himself had fought on the ship of his brave 
brother Ameinias in the great battle in the Strait, and like 
every other in the fleet he knew well that Themistocles had 
sacrificed three human victims to a god. In that same year 
Sophocles, a youth of sixteen summers, had formed one of the 
chorus of Ephebi that danced round the altar in celebration of 
the great deliverance, and there was not one of those that 
danced, or of that great multitude who looked on and 
rejoiced, who was not well aware of the horrid prelude to 
the great victory. On the day of the battle the parents of 
Euripides in the isle of Salamis itself watched anxiously the 
issue. There they, like many another Athenian, had sought 
refuge from the Persian, and there too that same year was 
Euripides born. As he grew up to boyhood, and listened while 
men and women talked of the dark days when the Persians 
occupied Athens, of the awful suspense of the night before the 
battle, and told their children the story of the great naval 
triumph, the sacrifice to Dionysus must have been a familiar 

Thus to all the great dramatists human sacrifice was 
no mere misty legend, but a grim and dreadful reality. And 
if this was so with the authors, no less was it with their 
audience. Every one in the theatre who listened to the 
recital of the sacrifice of Polyxena knew that human sacrifice 

1 i, 82-6. 


was a living practice. At Athens indeed it might only be re- 
sorted to in times of peculiar peril, but they well knew that 
in many parts of Greece, in Arcadia, Chios, Tenedos, Cyprus, 
year by year human victims were offered to gods or heroes. 
For each one then in that great audience the story of the 
slaying of Polyxena had a realism impossible for the modern. 
In the Heracleidae, as we have seen, the horror is mitigated 
by the voluntary self-devotion of Macaria for the deliverance of 
her own family, whilst in the Iphigenia at Aulis, though the 
horror is intensified by the girl's pleading for her life, yet there 
is some little mitigation in her final resolve to die willingly for 
Greece, but much more in the epilogue by which the play is 
turned into a melodrama, all ending happily by the substitution 
of a deer as the victim. In each of these two plays the audience 
was not harrowed by any recital of the act of sacrifice, but this 
we have to the full in the Hecuba. If the poet in the two 
former plays was careful not to exhibit or describe through the 
mouth of an eye-witness the closing scene of the horrid rite, 
why had he less scruple in the case of Polyxena ? But to the 
average Athenian of the fifth century B.C. the case of Polyxena 
differed essentially from those of the other two heroines. The 
latter were free maidens offered to appease an angry deity on 
behalf of their own kin. But in an age of universal slavery, 
when the captive purchased from the slave-dealer was as much 
a chattel as any sheep or goat, the sacrifice of a slave-girl to 
propitiate a mighty Greek warrior excited no great repugnance 
in the audience. The difference between slave and free is 
brought out clearly in Polyxena's entreaty that she be left 
unbound and permitted to die free, and not in bonds. But 
though the fate of Polyxena and her noble bearing may have 
excited pity and fear in the Athenian mind, the fact that she 
was an alien and a captive moderated the horror which the 
story of Talthybius might have otherwise roused. When we 
once place ourselves at the standpoint of the Athenian 
audience, we can understand why Euripides did not hesitate 
to give in all fulness of detail the sacrifice of Polyxena, and 
why that audience were not harrowed at its recital. Themistocles 
had offered Persian captives to Dionysus, and why should not 


the Acheans have sacrificed a captive Trojan to the mighty son 
of Thetis ? 

By the time of Euripides and certainly by the first part of 
the following century, there were many in Greece who abhorred 
such rites. But no real change in the moral attitude towards 
this dreadful practice could be effected while animal sacrifice 
in any form survived. So long as the slaying of cattle and 
sheep continued to be an essential part of the religious life, 
there lurked in the hearts of the masses, as at this present hour 
in West Africa and in many parts of Asia, an ineradicable belief 
that of all sacrifices to appease an angry spirit a human life was 
the most effectual. In the forepart of the first century of our 
era the Galilean had commenced his career of conquest over 
cruelty the cruelty of man who too often ascribed a cruelty 
like or worse than his own to his god that cruelty which by 
the daily slaughter of oxen and sheep still made the courts of 
Jehovah reek like the shambles. Yet centuries earlier some 
Psalmist had sung, " Thinkest thou that I will eat bulls' flesh 
or drink the blood of goats ? " The Hebrews had as a whole 
ceased from passing their sons and their daughters through the 
fire, and from giving the "seed of their bodies for the sin of their 
souls." But more than a century after the death of Christ, year 
by year as the seasons revolved, some helpless babe, snatched 
from a wretched mother's breast, warmed with its young life- 
blood the altar of the Arcadian Moloch. Such hideous rites 
were only to disappear from Greece when Christianity had 
abolished for ever all animal sacrifice by the far-reaching 
doctrine that its Founder's blood had once for all appeased 
the anger of the All-Father. But the deep-rooted belief in 
the efficacy of human blood still lingers in Christianity, though 
robbed of its cruelty, it is true. Spiritualised and etherialised, 
it still rings out in the last agony of despairing Faustus. 

See where Christ's blood streams in the firmament ! 
One drop of blood will save me. 


In certain Greek tragedies, where a tomb is represented 
on the stage, there are no libations offered nor kommoi sung. 


Nevertheless the sepulchre plays a very important part. In 
the Helena of Euripides, as we have already seen (p. 137), 
that heroine, in order to escape from the importunities of 
Theoclymenus, son of king Proteus, takes refuge at the tomb 
of that old king which stood in front of his palace. When 
Menelaus arrives, he finds Helen seated at or, far less likely, 
within the tomb of Proteus 1 . They do not as yet recognise 
each other, but Menelaus asks her why she is seated at the 
railing of the tomb. Later on when the Recognition takes place, 
Helen says to him : " This tomb protects as though it were a 
temple of the gods 2 ." Afterwards 3 Menelaus prays to Proteus: 
" O aged one, inhabiter of this sepulchre of stone, restore to 
me my spouse whom Zeus sent hither for thee to hold in 

Though Aristophanes in his Thesmophoriazusae* ridicules 
Euripides for this passage and makes one of the women reproach 
\ him for speaking of a tomb as though it were an altar of the 
gods, we cannot doubt that Euripides made no innovation by 
making his heroine take sanctuary at the grave of Proteus. 
He simply adapted for dramatic purposes the immemorial 
doctrine and practice of his race. In this matter at least 
Aeschylus is most certainly with him, since in the Choephori & 
the Chorus declare that they reverence the tomb of Aga- 
memnon as if it were an altar. 

There can be no doubt that the principle of the sanctuary 
which has played so important a part in a certain stage of 
legal institutions Christian as well as Greek and Hebrew 
had its root in the primitive veneration and fear of the wrath 
of the dead man in his tomb ; for it was a supreme matter 
of belief that the spirits of the departed within their graves 
were cognisant of and took a concern in the affairs of their 
families and people, and that in times of danger they could 
and would assist their kin if properly approached. It followed 
that if in the hour of extreme peril man or woman took refuge 

1 547. a 797. 3 961 sqq. 

4 887: KO.KUS dp' ^6X010 /cd^oXei 7' In, 

&ms ye roX/ugj ffijua TOV fiw/jLbv Ka\e~ti>. 
6 104. 


at the tomb of some one who had been great and powerful 
in life, his spirit would protect them and wreak vengeance on 
the pursuer, should he seek to slay the suppliant at the grave 
or drag him thence to perpetrate the deed elsewhere. 

We have already seen in the Suppliants of Aeschylus, that 
the daughters of Danaus and their father on their arrival in 
Argolis take sanctuary on a great tumulus which stands in the 
forefront of the scene. On this barrow are xoana of Zeus, Apollo, 
Poseidon and Hermes, and in front of it is an altar. As before 
pointed out Dionysus is not included amongst these deities 
" who preside over contests," and accordingly the ihymele in 
this play is not his altar. The Danaides invoke first the 
aid of the gods above, secondly that of the dead beneath in the 
earth lying in their graves, as exactors of heavy retribution; 
and finally they call upon Zeus the Saviour. Here as in the 
Helena a sepulchre is regarded as an inviolable sanctuary, 
but in this case the cults and images of various gods have 
been superimposed upon the barrow and on the worship 
of the dead within. Here we have the transition from the 
simple sanctuary consisting of a chieftain's grave, such as 
that of Proteus, to that formed by some shrine or temple of 
the heavenly gods. It is easy to show that Euripides and 
Aeschylus are faithfully reproducing the belief and practice 
of their time. It is needless to adduce fresh parallels for 
worship at the grave of a hero and for the belief in his 
power to exact heavy vengeance, for that has been already 
amply shown in the case of Scephrus at Tegea. Now in that 
very town was one of the most venerated sanctuaries in all 
Hellas, the temple of the being known as Athena Alea. " From 
of old," says Pausanias 1 , "this sanctuary had been looked upon 
with awe and veneration by the whole of Peloponnese and it 
afforded the surest protection to all that took refuge in it. 
This was shown by the Lacedaemonians in the case of Pausanias 
and of Leotychides before him, and by the Argives in the case 
of Chrysis ; for while these persons remained in the sanctuary, 
neither Lacedaemonians nor Argives would so much as demand 
their surrender." The goddess so dreaded was not really 

1 in, 5, 6. 


Athena, but the ancient Arcadian heroine Alea, upon whose 
cult that of the goddess Athena had been superimposed in 
later time, just as that of Zeus had overlaid that of Amphiaraus 
at Oropus, that of Trophonius at Lebadea, and that of Aga- 
memnon in the Troad. In this shrine of Athena Alea we have 
the full absorption of the ancient heroic personage buried there 
into one of the great divinities, the completion of the earlier 
stage of which we have seen in the case of the great barrow in 
the Supplices of Aeschylus, where the images of the gods are 
placed on the mound, but the dead in their graves beneath are 
still invoked separately. 

There can be no doubt that the Christian sanctuaries of 
mediaeval times are the lineal descendants of those of pagan 
days, for the saint in his shrine, be it lowly chapel or stately 
cathedral, is simply the old hero under a new name. The 
fugitive who could clutch the great knocker on the north door 
of Durham Cathedral had reached a haven of safety, for the 
pursuer who would slay him or drag him thence must reckon 
with the wrath of S. Cuthbert. But as in mediaeval times 
such sanctuaries, for example Westminster, became abused and 
proved the asylum of all sorts of malefactors and criminals, and 
thus became a real danger to the community, so was it in the 
Greek world also. The story of the great temple of Artemis 
at Ephesus and that of Apollo in Branchidae are very similar 
to that of Athena Alea at Tegea. It is absolutely certain that 
the shrine of Apollo was originally that of the hero Branchus, 
the eponymous hero of the clan of the Branchidae, under 
whose control the oracle remained, even after the Greek 
colonists had come and the cult of Apollo had been grafted on 
that of the native hero. Although we know not the name of 
the local heroine at Ephesus, there can be little doubt that the 
worship of Artemis had been imposed on the shrine of a native 
divinity, just as it had been on that of Orthia at Sparta 
and as that of Athena had overlaid the cult of Alea at 
Tegea. It is more than likely that the great shrine of Diana 
of the Ephesians owed no small part of its fame and popularity 
throughout all western Asia Minor to the fact that it had 
an asylum of a most inviolate kind. The boundaries of the 


sanctuary had been gradually widened I . Alexander the Great 
extended them to a stadion ; later came Mithridates and he, 
like Alexander, wishing to gain the favour of the priests, 
pushed still further the limits of asylum. He shot an arrow 
from an angle of the temple roof, and it was held that it flew 
beyond the stade and the limit was accordingly advanced. 
Mark Antony went still further and doubled the extent, 
thereby including in the sacred precinct a portion of the city. 
But this proved a curse for it benefited none but criminals, 
and accordingly Augustus abolished this last extension. 

But it is not only in the Helena that Euripides makes use 
of a sanctuary for a heroine in distress. In the Hercules 
Furens, when Lichas seized Thebes in the absence of that hero, 
Megara, the wife of the latter, took sanctuary with her three 
sons at the altar of Zeus the Saviour. So in the Andromache 
that hapless heroine, who is still buffeted by storms of calamity, 
in order to escape death at the hands of Hermione, the daughter 
of Menelaus and wife of Neoptolemus, takes sanctuary at the 
altar of Thetis. But when her relentless enemies learn the 
place of concealment of her child and threaten to put it to 
death unless she surrenders herself, she leaves the altar and 
resigns herself to her fate. 

The evidence which I have adduced makes it clear that 
when the dramatists represent some of their characters as 
flying for refuge to tombs of heroes and altars of gods, they 
are inventing no new expedient, but are simply employing for 
dramatic purposes a practice of peculiar and immemorial 
sanctity in Greece, and which had arisen solely out of the 
worship of the dead. Neglect of this fundamental element 
in Greek life and its concomitants has led to a mistake re- 
specting the true scene of the trial of Orestes in the Eumenides. 

The scene of the second act of the Eumenides 2 . 
It will at once be said, What objections are there to the 
traditional view that Orestes found sanctuary on the Acropolis 

1 Strabo, 547, 1 sqq. (Didot). 

2 This section is mainly reprinted from the Classical Review, 1907, vol. xxi, 
pp. 163-8. There is a summary in Jour. Hell. Stud., 1907, vol. xxvn, 
pp. 56-8. 


and that his trial took place upon the Hill of Ares ? The former 
was the most famous spot in Athens, and on it stood the 
Erechtheum, the oldest temple of Athena, already famous in 
Homeric days. Yet the difficulties of this view will be obvious 
as soon as they are stated. In the first place, though there 
were in Athens four localities all intimately associated with 
trials of persons charged with homicide, not one of these was 
situated on the Acropolis, though, it is true, weapons and other 
inanimate objects which had shed the blood of men or of oxen 
were tried in the Prytaneum, the ancient residence of the 
Archon Eponymus on the north slope of the Acropolis. 
Secondly, though in the play Orestes is represented as taking 
sanctuary at a shrine of Pallas, and as clasping in his arms her 
ancient ySpera?, there is not the slightest evidence that any 
image of the goddess Athena on the Acropolis, whether ancient 
or recent, offered an asylum to those who fled before the 
avenger of blood. Thirdly, in the play the goddess is always 
termed Pallas by the Pythian Priestess, by Apollo, and by the 
Furies in dialogue, though on two occasions Orestes does 
certainly address her as Athena, and she is so termed by the 
Furies twice in choral parts. Yet we know for certain, both 
by literary tradition and from inscriptions, that the goddess 
who dwelt in " the strong house of Erechtheus " on the 
Acropolis was never called Pallas, but was invariably known 
either as the Polias, or as Athena (or Athenaia) Polias 1 . 

On the other hand I propose to show that (1) there was 
a very ancient tribunal (if not the most ancient at Athens) for 
cases of homicide, more especially for that class of homicide to 
which Orestes pleaded guilty, situated outside the city wall 
to the south-east of the Acropolis; (2) that there was here 
a most ancient wooden image (6avov) to which those whose 
hands were reddened with the blood of their fellow men might 
fly to avoid the instant vengeance of the pursuer ; and (3) that 
this image was never known by the name of Athena or 
Athenaia, but always by that of Pallas or Palladion. 

Now as there were five different localities in or near Athens 
closely connected from of old with trials for bloodshed, it is 
1 Cf. Frazer's note on Paus. i, 26, 5. 


most unlikely that Aeschylus would in this play lay the scene 
of the trial at any spot other than one of those associated 
in the popular mind from time immemorial with the trial 
of homicide. This is all the more unlikely since he represents 
the first tribunal for that crime as instituted to try Orestes, 
whilst he also refers to the establishment on the Hill of Ares 
of a great council (j3ov\evTijpiov) which was not only to try 
cases of deliberate murder, but also to keep ward and control 
over the public morals 1 . 

Down to the time of Pausanias 2 (A.D. 180) there still 
survived at Athens five tribunals for cases of bloodshed. 
(1) There was the Areopagus, which sat on the famous hill 
that rises on the west over against the Acropolis. Here were 
tried cases of deliberate murder, wounding with malice, arson, 
and poisoning. (2) To the south-east of the Acropolis, outside 
the wall, lay an ancient shrine called the Palladion, so named 
from a venerable image of Pallas, which tradition variously 
declared to have been brought from Ilium, or to have fallen 
from heaven, or else to have been set up by Athena in her 
repentance for having killed her playmate Pallas. Here sat 
the court known as the TO eVi HaXXaStw, where were tried 
those who had committed involuntary homicide (TO!? aTroicrei- 
va<TLv d/eovaifos). " Nobody denies that Demophon was the 
first person tried here," but there is a difference of opinion as 
to the crime for which he was tried, i.e. whether it was for 
killing Argives by mistake, or for accidentally trampling 
an Athenian under his horse's feet in the dark. (3) There 
was the court known as the Delphinion, also situated on the 
east side of the Acropolis and outside the city wall. It 
was a shrine of Apollo of Delphi, and in it were tried cases 
of justifiable homicide, e.g. him who had slain an adulterer 
taken in the act. " On such a plea Theseus was acquitted 

1 Eum. 684 sqq.-. 

K\JOIT' 8.v tfSrj 6fafj.6v, 'ArrtKos Xetis, 
TrpiaTas di'/cas KpivovTts ai'/xaros x vro ^- 
tcrrai 5e /cat rb \oiirbv Ary^ws ffrparf 
ad 8iica.ffTioi> TOVTO fiov\evTr)piov . 

2 i, 28, 8-12. 


when he had slain the rebel Pallas and his sons. But the 
custom was in former days, before the acquittal of Theseus, 
that every manslayer either fled the country, or, if he stayed, 
was slain even as he slew." Yet it will soon be seen that the 
court probably owed its name to an older legend. (4) At 
Phreattys, on a tongue of land projecting into the sea at Zea, 
was held a court to try any manslayer who, during his period 
of exile, might have committed another crime of the same 
character. The judges sat on the shore, whilst the accused 
was literally docked in a boat moored off the beach, that he 
might not pollute with the miasma of his guilt the land of 
Attica. (5) In the Prytaneum, as already stated, were tried 
weapons, especially the axe with which was slain the ox at the 

If it be said that Pausanias does not refer to the trial 
of Orestes as having taken place at the Palladion, and con- 
sequently that this shrine cannot be its true scene, I may 
at once point out that there is the same objection to the 
Areopagus, for Pausanias 1 says that that court was first 
established to try Ares for the murder of Halirrhothius, and 
makes no mention of the trial of Orestes at all. 

Aeschylus gives us a totally different account of the 
establishment of the first tribunal for manslayers, but as he 
wrote some six centuries and a half before Pausanias, we are 
justified in assuming that his statement represents a far older 
legend than that of the later writer, and accordingly we may leave 
on one side the latter's account of the first cases supposed 
to have been tried at the Palladion, the Delphinion, and the 
Areopagus. Originally the judges in all these five courts for 
bloodshed were the ancient body called the Ephetae. The 
King Archon presided and probably with the fifty Ephetae 
made up the Fifty and One, a term by which the body was 
likewise known. According to Pollux 2 the Ephetae were 
constituted by Draco. Up to that time the Basileus had 
investigated and tried all cases of bloodshed, but Draco referred 

1 i, 28, 5. 

2 vni, 120: for an excellent summary of the evidence relating to the 
Ephetae see Dr Sandys' note on Arist. Ath. Pol. c. 57. 


such to the Fifty and One, and to this system of reference 
Pollux ascribes the origin of their name Ephetae. But like 
so many other provisions in Draco's enactments the body had 
only been reconstituted, having really existed from time im- 
memorial. The fact that they were selected on the ground 
of high birth (apiariv&rjv aipeOevras) of itself indicates that 
they were a survival from oligarchic and monarchical times. 
It is highly probable that in the Ephetae presided over by the 
Archon Basileus (himself the shadow of the ancient king), we 
have the survival of the ancient Gerousia or Boule. This view 
will be found to be quite in accord with certain statements 
of Aeschylus. 

By Solon's reforms the Ephetae were replaced on the 
Areopagus by a body consisting of ex-archons, though juris- 
diction in the minor courts was still left to them. Aristotle 1 
speaks as if they still continued to sit in these tribunals down to 
his day, but there is evidence that by the end of the fifth century 
B.C. ordinary dicasts sat in the Delphinion and Palladion, for we 
hear of seven hundred dicasts, a number inconsistent with the 
Fifty and One. Pollux 2 tells us that gradually the tribunal 
of the Ephetae was laughed to death. 

It is clear that with the courts of Phreattys and of the 
Prytaneum we have nothing to do in our present inquiry. The 
Areopagus, the Palladion, and the Delphinion therefore remain 
as the three possible scenes for the asylum and trial of Orestes, 
unless we make the wild assumption that the dramatist laid 
the scene of the trial at some spot never associated either in 
fact or tradition with trials for homicide. It is useless to urge 
that the dramatists are not at all particular as to the spot 
in which a scene is laid. For though this may be so when an 
Attic dramatist is composing a play the scene of which is laid 
at Troy, at Argos, or at Thebes, he certainly would not expose 
himself to ridicule and criticism from his Attic audience when 
dramatising a legend which was indissolubly bound up with 
one of the courts established for homicide, the very origin 
of which was ascribed to the trial of Orestes. 

Let us consider what are the conditions required for the 

1 Ath. Pol. c. 57. 2 vin, 125. 

B. T. 12 


spot where Orestes was tried. First of all there must be 
a most ancient image of the goddess. Secondly, it must be 
an image to which manslayers actually fled as suppliants when 
they could plead that the act was involuntary, as urged by 
Orestes in his own defence, or that it was justifiable, as was 
pleaded on his behalf by Apollo. Thirdly, this image ought 
to bear the name of Pallas and not that of Athena, for Apollo 
at Delphi orders Orestes to " go to the city of Pallas and take 
your suppliant seat there embracing in your arms her ancient 
image. And there having judges to decide on these matters, 
and arguments in mitigation of your crime, we will find means 
to relieve you from your troubles, for it was even in obedience 
to me that you slew that body which gave you birth." Then 
Apollo tells the Eumenides that Pallas will see justice done 
at the trial of Orestes. Fourthly, on that spot ought to sit the 
most ancient tribunal for trying homicide that was known at 
Athens, for Athena declares that the case of Orestes is too 
serious for one to decide, and therefore she will institute a 
thesmos to deal with such cases, who are to be the noblest of 
her citizens 1 . These last words seem especially to apply to 
the Ephetae, who, as we have just seen, were chosen dpiaTivSrjv. 
Moreover, when Athena says that the case of Orestes is too 
great for one to decide, we seem to have a direct allusion to 
the tradition preserved in Pollux that "in old days the king 
heard cases of bloodshed, but that Draco established the court 
of Ephetae." Furthermore, this oldest court for homicide cannot 
be one for deliberate murder, but only for the trials of those 
who could plead extenuating circumstances. 

Let us examine the respective claims of all the three com- 
petitors beginning with the Delphinion. As this was the 
shrine of the Apollo of Delphi, it is inconceivable that there 
would be in it a most ancient image of Pallas, such as that at 
which Orestes took sanctuary and which he clasped in his 
arms. For assuredly the object of adoration in the Delphinion 
would have been a statue of Apollo and not that of the 
goddess. Moreover, this shrine of Apollo was not an im- 
memorial place of veneration, as is fully shown by its name, 

1 Eum. 465 : Kplvaaa. 5' daruv ruv ip&v TO. ^Xrara. 


for it represents that particular form of cult connected with 
Apollo at Delphi, and accordingly we must regard it as ad- 
ventitious at Athens. As Apollo based his defence of Orestes 
on the ground that he was justified in slaying his mother to 
avenge his father, it would appear that trials of those who 
pleaded justification for their shedding of blood, such as those 
who had slain an adulterer taken in the act, or those who had 
slain others in self-defence, as in the mythical case of Theseus, 
were associated with this shrine, because Apollo was supposed 
to have first laid down at Athens in the case of Orestes the 
principle that intentional homicide could be justified. 

Let us now turn to the court of the Palladion. (1) Here 
stood the most ancient image of which we have any account 
in Athens. According to the legend given by Pausanias 1 
"after the capture of Ilion Diomede was sailing homeward, 
and night having fallen when they arrived off Phalerum, the 
Argives disembarked, as in an enemy's country, taking it in 
the dark for some land other than Attica. Hereupon Demo- 
phon being also unaware that the men from the ships were 
Argives came out against them and slew some of them, and 
carried off the Palladion." Another legend says that the 
image had fallen from heaven upon the hill of Ate, whilst still 
another story says that Athena slew her playmate Pallas and 
erected an image of her. The Palladion had closed eyes, and 
was a type essentially different from that of the statues of 

(2) Each year the Ephebi carried the image out of its 
shrine to Phalerum to the sea and back again with torches 
and every form of pomp 2 . The Nomophy lakes marshalled the 
procession 3 . Doubtless the image was taken down to the sea 
to be laved in the sea-water, in order to remove the pollution 
which during the previous year it might have contracted from 
the embraces of those who, like Orestes, had taken refuge and 
clasped it in their arms. That the object in bringing the 

1 loc. cit. 

2 C.I. A. II, 469, 10: tireidi] oi t<f>t)[3oi...f!;r)yayov 5 Kal rr}v IlaXXciSa KaKeWev 
irdXiv avvewrjyayov /JLCTO. 0wros, /J.fra TrdcrTjs fi>Koff/J.las (cf. C.I. A. n, 471, 11). 

3 Suidas, p. 1273 : oi 5 vo/j.o<f>v\a.ices rrj Ha\\ddi TTJV iro^ir^v iKlxr^ovv 8re 



statue down to the sea was to wash it from all impurity is 
rendered clear by the passage in the Iphigenia in Tauris 1 , 
where Iphigenia effects the escape of Orestes, Pylades and 
herself by telling Thoas the Tauric king that it was necessary 
to purify the image of Artemis from the miasma of Orestes 
and Pylades not by fresh water, but by sea- water, " for the sea 
washes away all human pollution." We need therefore have 
no doubt that the Palladion was used from time immemorial 
as a sanctuary in which those whose hands were red with 
human blood took refuge. (3) In it sat the Ephetae, who had 
once sat even on the Areopagus until Solon had replaced them 
by a body of ex-archons. 

(4) There is not the slightest evidence that trials for 
deliberate murder ever took place here, for they would seem 
from their first institution to have been held on the Areo- 
pagus. Of course it may be said, if the trials for wilful murder 
were held from the first on that famous spot, then that must 
have been the oldest court for homicide, since deliberate 
murder was the most serious offence, and for it a tribunal 
would be first erected. But this is a complete misconception 
of the evolution of the law of trial for murder at Athens and 
in many other places. We are told by Aeschylus 2 , and Pau- 
sanias (supra) repeats the same tradition, that in old days at 
Athens prevailed the stern rule, that whoso had shed man's 
blood, whether accidentally, justifiably, or wilfully, should be 
slain even as he slew. 

This was exactly the same doctrine as that held by the 
Semites on the other side of the Mediterranean. Amongst 
the latter we have the clearest proof that the first step in any 
modification of the custom by which the avenger of blood was 
permitted to kill the manslayer, no matter whether the latter 
had slain his victim by accident or design, was the establish- 
ment of sanctuaries. Such were the six cities of Refuge 
enjoined by Jehovah through the mouth of Moses. "That 

1 Eur. Iph. Taur. 1193 : /cXtffei 0d\a<rffa wdvTa TdvBpAirwv /ca/c< . Cf. Farnell, 
Cults of Greek States, voL i, p. 304. 

2 Choeph. 305 : Spdaavri va.6elv 

ii)0o5 <pwve'i. 


the manslayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at 
unawares (a:oi;cn,'&><?). They shall be unto you cities of refuge 
from the avenger ; that the manslayer die not, until he stand 
before the congregation in judgment 1 ." If he could show that 
he had shed blood unwittingly, he was spared and there he 
dwelt until the death of the High Priest at Jerusalem. It 
will be observed that the manslayer was tried at the asylum 
where he had taken refuge, not brought somewhere else to be 
tried. This was but natural, seeing that if he once quitted his 
sanctuary he was liable to be slain by the avenger at any 
moment. The Semitic practice gives us the clue to the various 
steps in the evolution of the law of homicide at Athens. Here 
as in Palestine the ancient custom was that the slayer should 
be slain. As the first relaxation of this merciless rule was the 
establishment of an asylum for those who had unwittingly shed 
blood, so we are justified in assuming that when at Athens 
we find distinct tribunals for different kinds of homicide, in- 
voluntary, justifiable, and deliberate, the first named (i.e. the 
Palladion) must have been the oldest, that for deliberate 
murder (the Areopagus) the last, that for justifiable (the 
Delphinion), the second ; but this is exactly what Aeschylus 
assumes, for he represents that the first tribunal for homicide 
was established for cases where extenuating circumstances were 
alleged Orestes himself pleading that he had committed the 
crime under the compulsion of Apollo, and the god urging that 
Orestes was justified in killing his mother to avenge his father. 
In other words Aeschylus represents the first tribunal as 
instituted for both the classes of homicide which in historical 
times were divided between the court of the Palladion and 
that of the Delphinion. But this is only what might have 
been expected, for the first step in the amelioration of the 
law of vengeance would be in the case of those who had killed 
unawares, the second would be the feeling that a man, even 
though he slew deliberately, might be justified in so doing. 
Naturally those who first urged the latter plea took refuge at 
the ancient sanctuary whither resorted those who had slain 
a man unawares; and it would be only later that a separate 

1 Numbers, xxxv. 11-13: TTOJ 6 n-ardfaj if/vx^v djcowr/ws (LXX). 


court would be established for the second class of extenuating 

But this is completely in accordance with the statement 
of Aeschylus, for the court first established to try homicide was 
held at a sanctuary which contained a most ancient image 
of Pallas. But as it was at the court of the Palladion that 
trials for involuntary homicide were held, there can be little 
doubt that the court of the Palladion was older than that of 
the Delphinion. Moreover, as the name Delphinion shows, 
that shrine was of comparatively recent origin, and as its con- 
nection with justifiable homicide apparently arose from the 
belief that Apollo had first broached that doctrine at Athens 
in the case of Orestes, we must conclude that it was of more 
recent date than the Palladion. 

Let us now turn to the remaining claimant, the Areopagus. 
How does it fit the conditions of the case ? (1) There was 
there no ancient image called by the name of either Athena 
or Pallas, for Pausanias only mentions a statue of Athena 
Promachos on the Hill of Ares. (2) There is not the slightest 
evidence that any other form of homicide except deliberate 
murder was ever tried there. (3) It is only as the last step 
in the evolution of the law of homicide that the community 
steps in between the next of kin and the deliberate manslayer, 
and insists that a solemn inquiry into the facts of the case 
shall be carried out before the accused shall be put to death. 
Accordingly the court of the Areopagus comes latest in the 
process of legal evolution. That court therefore fails as com- 
pletely as the Delphinion to fulfil the required conditions, 
whereas the Palladion, as has just been shown, is in strict 
accord with all the requirements of the play. For it had an 
immemorial xoanon, used as a place of sanctuary by man- 
slayers, and this was never called by any other name than that 
of Pallas or Palladion, whilst in its precincts was held the court 
for the trial of involuntary homicide which we have just seen 
was the first stage in the mitigation of the pitiless rule of a life 
for a life. 

In the first attempt to mitigate the severity of the antique 
law the king and his council of elders would naturally be the 


body who would decide whether a particular manslayer had 
shed blood involuntarily or justifiably. I have already pointed 
out that the Fifty and One consisting of the Basileus Archon 
and fifty others chosen for their high birth look like the 
survival of the ancient king and Gerontes or Boule. The 
Basileus laid the case before the court (ela-djet) as Athena 
does in the play. Aeschylus evidently believed that the first 
trial for homicide took place before the ancient Boule, for 
otherwise he would not have represented it as taking place in 
a Council chamber ({3ov\VTijpiov) 1 . Whilst it is very likely 
that in ancient times the king decided all ordinary cases 
himself, as did the Egyptian kings, and as is perhaps implied 
in the tradition preserved in Pollux, yet in cases of bloodshed 
the king would have felt like Athena in the play, and held 
that such cases were too serious to be tried by any one 
individual, whether mortal or immortal, and accordingly he 
laid (elcrrjyaye) the matter before the Boule. 

If it be urged that although Orestes took sanctuary at the 
Palladion, nevertheless he was tried on the Areopagus, and in 
support of this contention it be said that the words Trdyov & 
"Apeiov rovS" ' A fj,a^6v(ov ZSpav refer to the spot where the trial 
is proceeding, it may be at once pointed out that rovSe is 
simply used SIKTIKO)<;, as is so often the case ("yon Hill of 
Ares"), for the reference to the Areopagus is only secondary, 
having been introduced by Aeschylus, as is commonly held, 
in order to support the Areopagites against the democratic 
legislation of Pericles and Ephialtes. 

But there are several grave objections to this view. In the 
first place, it has already been pointed out (supra) that it was 
in the very essence of an asylum that the manslayer should 
remain there until it had been decided whether he could plead 
extenuating circumstances or not. Orestes would have been 
exposed to the vengeance of the Furies if he had been removed 
from the Palladion to be tried on the Hill, as is now supposed 
by my friend Dr Verrall 2 , who, whilst adopting my view of the 
place of asylum, still clings, though not very strongly, to the 

1 Eum. 540 : irXypovfjitvov yap rovSf fiovXevTiipiov. 

2 The Eumenides of Aeschylus (1908), pp. 183-8. 


Areopagus as the scene of the trial. Again, if the trial took 
place on the Areopagus, it is strange there should be no 
reference to the two famous unhewn stones of Anaideia and 
Hybris, on which stood the accuser and the accused respectively. 
Furthermore, at the close of the play Athena declares that she 
will send the Erinyes by torchlight to the cavernous recesses 
beneath the earth, under the conduct of her attendants who 
guard her bretas, whilst the best-born of all the land of Theseus 
shall come, a goodly company of maidens, married women and 
aged matrons. It seems very unlikely that Athenian women 
would be represented as present on the Areopagus during the 
trial, more especially as such trials took place by night, and ready 
to form a procession. Moreover, there is no reason why the 
attendants of Athena who had charge of her ancient image should 
be present at a spot where there was no shrine of the goddess, 
and no ancient image known either as Pallas or Athena. On 
the other hand, if the procession started from the Palladion, 
moving from south-east to the Areopagus, the attendants of 
Athena will naturally be ready to escort the Furies, now clad in 
scarlet like Metics (as my lamented friend, the late Dr Headlam, 
has cleverly shown 1 ), to their future abode in the side of the Areo- 
pagus. Moreover, the words ev^a/^eire Se, ^wplrat, (989) and 
v(f>afj.ire Se TravSapei (991) have no force, if we hold that the 
procession is simply moving down from the top of the hill to 
the cavern in its side, for why should all the Athenians be 
present ? On the other hand if the procession is passing 
across the lower town from the Palladion to the Areopagus, 
then the exhortation to the whole population to observe a 
religious silence is completely in place. Finally, if the pro- 
cession moved from the court on the Areopagus down the hill 
to the cavern in its side, we ought naturally to meet some 
word or phrase in the marshalling of the procession, to 
signify that it was descending the side of the hill. But no 
such word as Karafiaiveiv occurs, but simply the term /3re, 
well suited to the progress through the town. 

We have already compared the claims of the Erechtheum with 

1 982 : (poiviKoflairTois tvdvrols : Jour. Hell. Stud., xxvi, 268 sqq. 


those of the three chief courts for the trial of homicide, and 
we have found that the former fails to satisfy any of the 
necessary conditions. But as the Areopagus and the Delphinion 
also fail in all respects except that they were tribunals for 
homicide, whereas the Palladion fulfils them all, we may con- 
clude that the scene both of the asylum and trial of Orestes is to 
be laid at the Palladion, that immemorial sanctuary of Athens, 
and which was almost certainly the grave of an ancient heroine. 
In our survey of the extant Greek tragedies we have found as 
an integral part of the structure in not a few of them a threnos 
or a kommos. But such a feature was already familiar in 
Homeric days and we know not how long before. It can then 
have no more been derived from " the grotesque Satyric form " 
than tombs, the libations to the dead, human sacrifices and the 
use of graves as sanctuaries, all of which figure so prominently 
in a large proportion of these dramas. But as the laments for 
the departed, the worship of ancestors by sacrifices and mimetic 
dances and the use of tombs as places of asylum all go back on 
Greek soil to a period long anterior to the introduction of the 
cult of Dionysus into Attica and Peloponnesus, these practices 
which are so conspicuous in our extant tragedies cannot be 
survivals in such plays from Dionysus and his uncleanly cult. 
We are led on the contrary to conclude that they are rather 
survivals from that primaeval worship of the dead, such as we 
saw in the cult of Adrastus at Sicyon, and that it was from 
such that Tragedy proper originated. It may be said that in 
the Pentheus of Thespis and the play of the same name written 
by Aeschylus and in the trilogy on the misfortunes of Lycurgus 
composed by Polyphradmon, there is good evidence for the 
Dionysiac origin of Tragedy, because the calamities of these 
heroes were visitations from the Thracian god. But it might 
just as well be maintained that as the sorrows of the Labdacidae 
were due to the spurning of Apollo by Laius, and as the rending 
of Glaucus by his own mares was the work of Aphrodite, 
Tragedy therefore must have sprung from the worship of one 
or both of these divinities. In the case of the Pentheus and 
the Lycurgeia it was almost certainly the hero and not the god 
who was the central figure, as is indicated by the name of the 


play and of the trilogy and as is undoubtedly the case in the 

The result of our examination thus confirms the evidence 
already adduced for our belief that Tragedy arose in the 
worship of the dead, and that the only Dionysiac element in 
the Drama was the Satyric play. 



AESCH. Eum., 536. 

ALREADY under Phrynichus Tragedy had begun some- 
times to turn her eyes from the heroic past and to look for 
themes in contemporary events, as for instance in the Capture 
of Miletus, which proved anything but a successful experiment 
for its author, yet an example to be followed in no long time 
by Aeschylus with a more fortunate result in his Persae. But 
Aeschylus was destined to extend the sway of the Tragic art 
over realms into which neither Phrynichus nor any other of 
his predecessors had dared to enter. He realised to the full the 
depth and breadth, the grandeur and the terror of the Tragic 
art; for he not only made the Drama a mighty engine for dealing 
with the great social and political problems of his day, but he 
went much further, and passing the flaming bounds of time 
and space, essayed to discuss the supreme problems of morals 
and religion; not merely man in relation to man, but man in 
relation to the Universe and to God. 

The Supplices and the Eumenides. We have already 
had occasion to examine briefly the plot of the Supplices 
(p. 127), but only for the purpose of showing the important 
part played throughout by the great barrow which forms the 
central point in the scene. Let us now examine its structure 
with greater care and try to discover the real meaning of the 

The trilogy deals with the story of the fifty daughters of 
Danaus who, in order to escape marriage with their cousins the 


fifty sons of Aegyptus, fled with their aged father to Argos. 
The Supplices deals with their arrival in Argos, their kindly 
reception in that state, and the repulse of the pursuers. The 
second play, which was either the Aegyptii or the Thalamopoei, 
dealt with the coming of the sons of Aegyptus in strength to 
Argos, the defeat of the Argives, and the capture and the 
forced marriages of the Danaids, and their murder of their 
husbands, with the sole exception of Lynceus, spared by 
Hypermnestra. The third play contained the trial of that 
heroine for disobeying her father, and her acquittal when 
Aphrodite herself came to plead her cause. 

It has often been remarked that the Supplices cannot properly 
be termed a tragedy, for there is no catastrophe and it has a 
happy ending. The play certainly contains no thrilling action, 
nor is there anything in it to rouse the emotions of the modern 
playgoer except the spectacle of the fifty helpless maidens and 
their father. But it might as well be said that the Eumenides is 
not a tragedy. It must be remembered that Aeschylus regarded 
each trilogy as a whole, and as in the Oresteia the Eumenides 
is preceded by two plays supremely tragic, so the Supplices was 
succeeded by a drama in which a dreadful tragedy was enacted. 
But it may be that there are elements in the play, as in the 
Ajax of Sophocles, which do not appeal to us moderns, but would 
have acted powerfully upon an Athenian audience. Let us strive 
to find out what these elements may be. 

The chorus probably consisted not of twelve or fifteen, as 
is often held, but rather (as Tucker has well argued) of the 
fifty Danaids, for as the chorus speak of themselves as the fifty 
daughters of Danaus, and as we may suppose that the Athenian 
audience could count, there would have been a grotesque 
incongruity between the statement of the chorus and their 
actual number. Fifty was the original number of the dithy- 
rambic chorus of Arion, and fifty it continued to be, according 
to Pollux, down to the time of the Eumenides. As the chorus 
enter, their leader recounts how they have fled from Egypt not 
because they had committed crime, but rather to escape from 
crime, since they had left the home of their ancestress lo in 
order to escape a hated union with their cousins. They pray 


that Zeus may receive the suppliants, and that the gods may 
side with them against vice and violence, and they declare that 
human wantonness is putting forth new leaves. Then Danaus,who 
has meantime mounted the grave-howe, cries to his daughters 
to be prudent as he sees the dust of a host approaching from 
Argos, and he urges them to take sanctuary on the mound. 
The Danaids immediately leave the orchestra and ascend 
the tumulus, invoking the chief gods whose images they 

The king of Argos soon arrives, and demands from what 
country they have come. He finds it hard to believe that 
people of their complexion can be Greeks, for they are more 
like Libyans, Egyptians, or Amazons. Then the Danaids 
convince the king that they are really descended from lo the 
Argive heroine. He asks why they have sought asylum with 
the gods of the mound. They tell him that they have fled 
from marriage with their cousins. Finally the king is moved 
to send Danaus with suppliant boughs to plead his cause before 
the people in the city. The king bids the maidens leave their 
sanctuary, depositing there the boughs, and descend into 
the alsos. Then the king departs to summon the Argive 
assembly, and the chorus thereupon pray to Zeus to save them 
and to destroy the Egyptians. Soon Danaus returns alone, 
having moved the pity of the Argives, for the assembly was 
of one mind, thanks to Zeus working through the eloquence of 
the king 1 . Thereupon the chorus prays for the prosperity of 
Argos. Meanwhile Danaus, who has once more ascended the 
mound, is gazing seawards and sees the Egyptians approach. 
Then he departs to the city to seek aid, and meantime the 
chorus prays for escape from the loathed embraces of their 
cousins. Soon enter the Egyptian herald and mariners, and 
thereupon the Danaids take refuge once more on the mound 
and cling to the statues. The herald threatens and boasts, and 
finally he proceeds to lay hands upon them and drag them 
away by their hair and garments. At this crisis the king of 
Argos arrives, and after some altercation the Egyptians depart, 
uttering threats of vengeance on their masters' part, whilst 

1 579-603. 


the maidens make their way to the city, where they will find 
a home. 

Let us now examine the reasons given by the chorus for 
their flight and the grounds on which they claim the pity 
and protection of Argos. They have left Egypt because they 
abhor the union with their cousins the sons of Aegyptus 1 , 
whom they describe as a lewd swarm (e<r/io<? v/Bpia-rijs), and 
pray that they may perish before they mount bridal beds from 
which immemorial custom debars them 2 . 

Again the Coryphaeus prays, "Grant not to youthful lust 
to find unrighteous consummation, but straightway spurn all 
wantonness, and bring to happy pass such wedlock as is right 3 ," 
whilst further on she speaks of the sons of Aegyptus as "kindred 
who defile their own race 4 ." Finally she tells the king of 
Argos that they have come "through loathing an unblessed 
wedlock there in Egypt 5 ." Such then are the moral grounds 
urged by the chorus in their plea for sanctuary. 

But surely to an Athenian audience in the time of Isaeus 
a more futile plea for succour could not have been advanced. 
So far from there being any objection in that period to the 
intermarriage of cousins, the law permitted the marriage of 
half-brothers and half-sisters provided they had not the same 
mother (o/io/x^r/atoi) but were sprung from the same father 
(o/jLOTrdrpioi). Moreover at Athens if a man left no son, his 
daughter became in a certain sense his heiress (eVt/cX^po?), 
but she really, as the term means, was nothing more than an 
adscripta glebae, an inseparable appendage to the estate. The 
next of kin could claim her in marriage, unless her father had 
provided otherwise by will. The heiress was simply the medium 
for conveying her father's estate to her own son, for if on her 
marriage she bore two sons, the eldest would become the heir 
to his father's family, whilst the second might be adopted into 
that of his maternal grandfather and on coming of age, if his 

1 9. 

2 37 sqq.: irpiv wore X^Krpuv uv 0^/us etpyei 

v ira.Tpad\<j>fiav 

75. * 220. 5 326. 


grandfather were dead, he would succeed to the inheritance 
of which his mother was the heiress. 

Not only could the next of kin claim the heiress, if she was 
still unmarried, but even if a woman was already married, and 
she, by the death of her brother, became an heiress to the 
family property, her next of kin could claim her and could 
compel her husband to give her up. Again, if a man after his 
marriage became next of kin to an heiress, he might put away 
his wife and marry the heiress. Accordingly then the plea of 
the Danaids that the marriage with their cousins was incestuous 
would have excited nothing but contempt in an Attic audience 
of the time of Demosthenes. 

But had this law of the marriage of heiresses always been 
the custom at Athens or was it but of comparatively recent 
date ? The fact that even in classical times when succession 
was through males, the claim of a woman who had no brothers 
to the family land remained paramount, points distinctly to 
a time when all property descended through women. 

There were distinct traditions that in old days wedlock was 
unknown at Athens and that children were named after their 
mothers. According to Justin 1 it was Cecrops who first 
established the marriage bond, whilst according to Varro 2 , 
it was under this same king that the women lost their votes 
in the assembly, and that the children no longer received the 
mother's name. Up to that time the women sat in the assembly 
along with the men. A double wonder sprang out of the earth 
at the same time, in one place the olive tree, and in another 
water. The king in terror sent to Delphi to ask what he should 
do. The god answered that the olive tree signified Athena, 
and the water Poseidon, and that the citizens must choose after 
which of the two they would name their town. Cecrops called 
the assembly; the men voted for Poseidon, the women for 
Athena, and as there was one woman more, Athena prevailed. 
Thereupon Poseidon in wrath sent the sea over all the lands 
of Attica. To appease the god, the citizens imposed a threefold 
punishment on their women : they were to lose their votes, 

1 ii, 6. 

2 ap. Augustine, De civitate Dei, xvnr, 9. 


the children were no longer to receive the mother's name, and 
they were no longer to be called Athenians after the goddess. 
As McLennan points out, this story is a tradition of a 
genuinely archaic state, and cannot have been the invention 
of a later time, for Athena in it represents Mother-right. 
If it be contended that Varro and Justin are but late writers, 
it must be remembered that both of them contain much 
valuable information garnered from earlier sources, and that 
their statements are amply corroborated by the Athenian law 
respecting the marriage of half-brothers and half-sisters, provided 
that they were not sprung from the same mother. Whilst legal 
conservatism would retain an ancient custom once of peculiar 
importance, it is most unlikely that the Athenians in later 
times would have introduced any such law, more especially 
at a time when the whole tendency was to magnify the 
importance of the male parent. 

It is clear now that Athens once had the system of descent 
through women which prevails still over wide areas of the earth, 
and which once was the rule in a great part of Europe, for 
instance, with the ancient Spaniards, and amongst the ancient 
peoples on the south and east of the Mediterranean, of whom 
the Lycians are the most typical example. The latter were 
allied to the Greeks in blood, and with them down to very late 
times kinship was reckoned through women, the children being 
called after their mothers, and the property descending through 
the female line 1 . If a woman cohabited with her slave, the 
offspring were full citizens, but if a free man lived with a foreign 
woman or a concubine, even though he was the first in the 
state, the children had no rights of citizenship, whilst according 
to Nicolaus Damascenus they left their inheritances to their 
daughters and not to their sons. 

It is then certain that at Athens there had once been 
a time when descent was traced and property passed through 
females, a fact proved by the circumstance that brothers and 
sisters by the same father might marry freely, whilst the union 
of half-brothers and half-sisters sprung from the same mother 
was considered incestuous. In such a condition of society, 

] Herod, i, 173. 


marriage outside the kin is the normal rule, that is what is 
called Exogamy. Clearly then, when the Danaids complain 
that their cousins are forcing on them an unnatural union, they 
take their stand on the doctrine of exogamy, whereas at Athens, 
from the end of the fifth century and after, marriage within the 
kin is peculiarly favoured, or as McLennan would say, Endogamy 
was the rule. But as we have just seen that descent through 
women was once the rule at Athens, there must have been 
a period of transition from the one system to the other, and 
there is evidence to show that the older system was still fresh 
in memory in the time of Aeschylus. 

The Eumenides 1 furnishes us not only with evidence of 
descent through women, but also shows that in the Athens 
of the fifth century B.C., there was a clear recollection of a time 
when the marriage tie can hardly be said to have existed 
at all. When the Erinyes declare that their office is to drive 
matricides from their homes, Apollo asks, " What if he be the 
slayer of a wife who has murdered her husband ? " To this 
the Erinyes replies, "That would not be kindred blood shed 
by the hands of kindred." " Truly," says Apollo, " ye make of 
none effect the solemn pledges of Hera Teleia, and Zeus. The 
Cyprian goddess too is flung aside and is dishonoured by this 
argument, source as she is of the joys dearest to mortals. For 
the marriage bed, ordained by Fate for husband and wife, 
is a bond stronger than a mere oath, guarded as it is by 
Justice." Again, when Orestes demands of the Erinyes why 
they persecute him, though they did not pursue his mother 
Clytemnestra in her lifetime for the murder of her husband, 
they reply that " She was not of the same blood as the man 
whom she slew." 

As Athens once had the older system to which the Danaids 
cling, there must have been a time when the archaic form 
gradually gave way to that which we find fully established in 
the days of the Attic orators. When did this take place ? 
The question of the transition to succession through males 
instead of females plays a central part in the Eumenides. In 
that play the dread goddesses, who are maintaining the 

1 201 sqq. 
R. T. 13 


immemorial customs of the land when indicting Orestes for 
the slaying of his mother, lay down that the tie between 
mother and child is especially sacred, in other words the 
doctrine embodied in the Attic law which forbade intermarriage 
between half-brothers and half-sisters by the same mother. On 
the other hand Apollo is charged by them with overthrowing 
primaeval ordinances and introducing strange practices, when 
in defence of Orestes he declares on the authority of Zeus that 
the tie between the father and the child is much closer. Now 
unless the Athenian audience in the year 458 B.C. was fully 
aware that succession through females had been the ancient 
practice at Athens, the main point on which the triumphal 
acquittal of Orestes depends would not have appealed to them 
in the slightest degree. We are therefore justified in the 
inference that down to the fifth century B.C. there were many 
survivals of a time when succession passed through the female 
line and when the law of exogamy was still a matter of common 
knowledge to the mass of Athenians. 

Now if this was so in 458 B.C. when the Oresteia was 
exhibited, it must have been still more the case when the 
Supplices, supposing that we are right in considering it the 
earliest extant play of the poet, was composed. Accordingly 
the plea of the suppliants to be saved from an endogamous 
marriage with their cousins would probably appeal to many 
in the audience who first heard it. The breaking down of 
ancient customs cannot be effected in a few years even by 
a Napoleon, and in an ancient state such as Attica, with its 
numerous small communities rigidly conservative, the process 
of change must indeed have been slow and great opposition 
must have been roused in many quarters by the proposals to 
alter the time-honoured methods of tracing forms of kinship 
and succession. 

I have already given the plea urged by the chorus against 
their marriage with their cousins on the ground that such was 
immoral. In their conversation with the king of Argos we 
find another objection equally strong, one not moral but material. 
The king asks them why they have become suppliants of the 
gods whose images are worshipped at the mound where they 


have taken sanctuary, bearing their wool- wreathed olive boughs. 
The leader replies, "In order that I may not become the 
bondswoman of the sons of Aegyptus." The king asks, " Is this 
merely because there is a family quarrel, or because it is 
unlawful ? " She avoids a direct answer by asking " Who would 
purchase relations as owners ? " The king, who is not at all 
a sentimental statesman, replies, "It is in this way that men's 
power becomes aggrandised." 

The Coryphaeus declares that she does not want to become 
a bondswoman to her cousins and furthermore she has a great 
aversion to purchasing with her property relations who will in 
reality be her owners. In this she is simply expressing the 
feelings of the Athenian heiresses, who by the new legislation 
were to be treated merely as appendages to the family estate, 
who could not marry whom they pleased, and who, even if 
already married to some other man, might, under certain 
circumstances, be torn from their husbands to gratify the 
cupidity of the next of kin. 

That the poet is alluding to the Attic law relating to 
women is rendered all the more probable by the words of the 
Argive king: 

" Suppose the sons of Aegyptus have authority over you 
by the law of your city, alleging that they are your nearest 
of kin, who would seek to withstand their right ? Needs be 
that you must plead according to your own country's laws, that 
they have no authority over you 1 ." Now as every Athenian 
woman in the later classical period must have a Kvptos, a man 
who had control over her and managed her estate, whether 
father, brother, or next of kin, the use of the term tcvpos by the 
king of Argos is of great significance ; it confirms the view 
that the chorus are really voicing the objections made by the 
party at Athens, especially women entitled to property, not 
only against the innovations by which they were deprived of 

1 362 sqq.: et rot Kparowi Trcudes Alytiwrov fftOfv 

v&Hij) TroXews, <f)daKOVTS eyyvTara y4vovs 
elvai, ris &i> rolcr5' avTiwdfji'ai 6\oi; 
Sei rot ffe (peuyew Kara, v6fj.ovs TOI)S otKodev, 
ws owe lx ovffl Kupos ovdtv d/J.<pi <rov. 



managing their estate and marrying whom they pleased outside 
their kindred, but also against the new proposal by which the 
heiress was in the power of her next of kin, and thus became, 
in the words of the chorus, nothing more than his bondswoman. 
Now let us turn to the king's reply. To the rhetorical question 
of the Coryphaeus, " Who would purchase relations as masters ? " 
the king answers, " This is the way in which men's power is 
aggrandised." What is the meaning of these words which the 
Coryphaeus does not attempt to gainsay ? They mean nothing 
more or less than that as soon as the rule of marriage outside the 
kin is broken down, the property can be kept within the kin 
instead of continually passing to the use of men of other families. 
In this way each genos (like the Rothschilds) can increase greatly 
in wealth and influence. No wonder is it that the Coryphaeus 
made no reply, for the truth of the king's sententious utterance 
can be abundantly proved from the history of Mediterranean 
lands. So long as a tribe is in the hunter state, the rule of 
exogamy leads to little trouble, for there is no property except 
some articles of dress, a few weapons and ornaments, and these 
are usually buried with the dead owners. With the acquisition 
of domestic animals and the first attempts at cultivation 
difficulties begin to arise. There is now property to inherit, 
and that property passes to the daughters and to the men 
whom the daughters choose to marry, whilst the sons seek 
homes for themselves with the daughters of other families, 
their sisters in some cases at least giving them a dowry in 
order to help them to obtain eligible paries. This for instance 
was the usage amongst the ancient Cantabrians in north-west 
Spain, where we are told by Strabo 1 that the daughters inherited 
the family property, but that they dowered out their brothers 
to the women of other families. So long as there is still much 
unoccupied land, no real pinch would be felt by the sons, but 
when the cultivable land is not of great extent, and becomes 
practically all under occupation, the position of the sons becomes 
precarious. A man may or may not secure a wife with a 
comfortable "matrimony." If he does not, he sees the family 
property pass with his sister or his female cousins to the men 
1 137, 30 (Didot). 


of other families, whilst he himself wanders where he may 
as a lackland. There is only one way in which he can enjoy 
the family property and that is to marry his cousin or even 
his sister. Some years ago I pointed out in a public lecture 
that this was the true explanation of the strange practice of 
the marriage of brothers and sisters in Egypt, not only in the 
royal family but also amongst all grades of the population. 
These marriages were not confined to half-brothers and half- 
sisters, but as is proved abundantly by documents relating to 
the payment of taxes whole brothers and whole sisters sprung 
from the same parents regularly contracted marriages. When 
therefore the Ptolemies married their sisters, it was not through 
a mere freak of depravity, but was completely in conformity 
with the usage of their subjects. Thus we are told by Pausanias 
that when Ptolemy Philadelphus fell in love with his full sister 
Arsinoe and married her, it was contrary to the customs of the 
Macedonians, but agreeable to those of the Egyptians over whom 
he ruled 1 . 

It is now clear that in the transition from succession through 
females to that through males, which we find in the time of 
Isaeus and Demosthenes, there must have been a breaking 
down of the principle of exogamy. It is not unreasonable to 
suppose that the first attacks on an immemorial social institution 
of such primary importance would arouse the strongest feeling 
and would only finally succeed after long struggles. 

A consideration of the law of inheritance in two other 
countries of the Eastern Mediterranean will show us probably 
the steps which led up to the position of women, such as we 
find it to be at the end of the fifth century B.C. at Athens. In 
Lycia we saw that if a free woman had a child by her slave, 
it was perfectly legitimate, and if a daughter, it would inherit 
the family property. At Athens the heiress was nothing more 
than an appendage inseparably attached to the family inheritance. 
The famous Gortyn laws may show us some of the steps by 
which probably Attic law relating to heiresses advanced to the 
stage at which we find it in the days of the Orators. Thus 
at Gortyn, although the sons had the sole right to the town 

1 i, 7, 1. 


house, its furniture, and the cattle, the daughters shared in 
the rest of the inheritance, each daughter getting half as much 
as a son. If a girl was an heiress (Trarpwtco/co?), she might 
marry whom she pleased within the limits of her tribe, if she 
was content with the town house and half the remainder of the 
estate, the next of kin taking the other half. If there was no 
next of kin, the heiress might marry any one of her tribe who 
would have her ; if not, the law lays down that she may marry 
whom she can. Again if a married woman became an heiress, 
she was not compelled to leave her husband, although she 
could do so if she pleased. If she divorced him she was not 
always free to marry whom she pleased : for if she was childless 
she must either marry the next of kin, or indemnify him ; but 
if she already had children, she might marry any member of 
her tribe who would have her. So too with a widow if she 
became an heiress. Though at Athens it was obligatory on the 
next of kin either to marry the heiress, or to provide her with 
a dower if she were poor, there was no such obligation at Gortyn, 
for the next of kin was not compelled to marry the heiress if he 
gave up his claim to the estate. Again whereas at Athens the 
property of the heiress became the property of her son as soon 
as he came of age, at Gortyn the mother had the same rights 
over her property that her husband had over his, and as long 
as she lived her children could not divide her property against 
her wish. At her decease it was transmitted in the same way 
as the estate of a man. Finally at Gortyn an heiress under 
certain circumstances could marry a serf and the offspring would 
be legitimate. 

As the Lycians were closely connected in blood with Crete, 
and in fact are said to have been emigrants from that island, 
it would seem that in the Gortyn laws respecting the property 
of heiresses, which show far more consideration for the rights 
of women than those of Athens, we have not an outcome of 
more enlightened legislation, as is held by Mr Jevons 1 , but rather 
the result of an attempt to advance in the same direction as 
that made by the men at Athens, though in Crete the men 
either did not desire or had not been able to encroach so much 

1 P. Gardner and F. B. Jevons, Manual of Greek Antiquities, p. 562. 


on the ancient rights of the women. The Gortyn code shows 
us really an earlier stage in the transition from exogamy to 
endogamy than that seen at Athens, and we may not be wrong 
in holding that the first steps taken at Athens may not have 
been unlike what we find as the actual state of things in Crete 
or at least at Gortyn. 

Let us return to the lines under discussion. The meaning 
of the answer of the king of Argos to the Danaids is now clear. 
"You may not," says he, "like being compelled to marry your 
kinsmen, but all the same it is best for the kin, for the family 
property will thereby be kept together, and consequently its 
power and influence will increase." 

When once we realise that the change over from female 
to male kinship was a burning question at Athens in the first 
half of the fifth century, being still of sufficient interest to form 
the central feature in the third play of the great trilogy of the 
Oresteia in 458 B.C., we can readily understand that the audience 
which listened to the Supplices in the opening decades of that 
century found in its plot a theme for them of absorbing interest, 
but which would have aroused just as little feeling in the days 
of Demosthenes as it does in ours. 

Now what was the attitude of Aeschylus himself towards 
these social innovations ? It has always been the fashion 
amongst scholars to speak of the poet as a great religious and 
political conservative, but I venture to think a re-consideration 
of the question will lead us to a different conclusion. Briefly 
stated the grounds for the ordinary belief are (1) his oft-repeated 
reverence for Zeus and the other gods, and (2) his eulogy on 
the Areopagus. Yet investigation will show us that the great 
dramatist so far from being a conservative was the great 
proclaimer of a new religious and social gospel. It is perfectly 
true that from first to last the power of Zeus and the gods is 
constantly reiterated in all his plays. Thus in the Supplices 
itself, probably his earliest extant work, the chorus at the very 
outset invokes the aid of Zeus, and elsewhere in the play Zeus 
is described as the helper of the helpless, as he that helps to 
right them that suffer wrong, as the all-seeing one, whose eyes 
behold all that is done upon earth, and finally as the judge 


of the wicked after death. Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon and Hermes, 
in the order given, have statues on the sacred mound 
where the chorus took sanctuary. From the standpoint of 
Aristophanes and his contemporaries Aeschylus may indeed 
be regarded as a conservative. But is he so when judged in 
relation to his own time ? Were Zeus and Apollo gods of 
immemorial reign at Athens ? The poet himself tells us 
explicitly in the Prometheus Vinctus that new gods have arisen 
which have upset the ancient order of things, and these new 
gods especially are Zeus, the overthrower of the Titan brood, 
and his son Apollo. In the Eumenides the Erinyes complain 
that Zeus and Apollo are upsetting the old order of things, 
whilst they declare that they themselves are trying to uphold 
the ancient customs of the land, such as kinship traced through 
the mother. The dramatist would never have dared to speak 
thus of Zeus and Apollo unless his audience were well aware 
that the two great deities were but new-comers into Athens. 
Moreover a striking confirmation of the statement of Aeschylus 
is furnished by an examination of the shrines of the gods at 
Athens. Though, as we know from Homer, Athena had her 
home on the Acropolis in the "strong house of Erechtheus," 
yet down to the latest days neither Zeus nor Apollo had a 
temple on that famous citadel. Though Zeus in later times 
had managed to annex an altar in front of the north door of 
the Erechtheum, down to the last he never could find entrance 
into the great temple itself, in which Athena and Poseidon 
reigned. Again the names of the temples built in honour of 
Zeus and Apollo in other parts of the city show clearly that 
they were adventitious and not indigenous deities. That of 
Zeus was called the Olympieum, whilst those of Apollo were 
termed respectively the Pythium and the Delphinium, showing 
that the cult of Zeus was derived from Olympus in Thessaly, 
whilst that of Apollo had been introduced from Delphi. 

Moreover the Zeus temple was not of ancient date, for we 
know that it was begun by the despot Pisistratus in the plain 
to the south-east of the Acropolis about the middle of the sixth 
century B.C. So indifferent however as a whole were the 
Athenians to the worship of the Olympian, that in the glorious 


years after the overthrow of the Persians and when great 
revenues flowed in from allies and subjects, and when Pericles 
was lavishing vast sums on the Parthenon, not a single stone 
was added to the shrine of Zeus. Even when the Athenians 
were utterly exhausted towards the close of the Peloponnesian 
War, they spent a large sum on rebuilding the Erechtheum, 
the home of Athena and Poseidon, yet the temple of the 
Father of gods and men still lay neglected. It was only in 
B.C. 174 that it was brought near to completion not by the 
expenditure of Athenian money but by the munificence of 
Antiochus Epiphanes. Indeed it was not finished until the 
reign of Hadrian. 

So far then from Aeschylus being a conservative in religion, 
he is the champion of the gods Zeus and Apollo against the 
dread dark beings revered in primitive Athens, which are upheld 
by the Eumenides in the play named after them. The Erinyes 
held that there could be no mercy for the shedding of kindred 
blood, but Apollo on the authority of his father Zeus proclaims 
that the sinner after due purification can meet with pardon and 
forgiveness. Again in that same play though Athena is made 
to declare herself altogether the child of Zeus, yet at no distant 
date she had always been regarded as the daughter of Poseidon, 
who continued down to the last, as we have just seen, to share 
with her the Erechtheum. According to Herodotus 1 it was only 
quite late that she became wroth with Poseidon, repudiated 
him as her father and affiliated herself to Zeus. 

Nor are we without some hint as to the time and 
cause for the introduction of the new doctrines into Athens. 
We have just seen that it was Pisistratus who laid the 
foundations of the temple of Zeus, and it is familiar to all 
scholars that it was under that same despot that the study 
of the Homeric poems assumed an active form at Athens. In 
these poems, though Athena may play a prominent part, 
Poseidon is but of very secondary rank, whilst Zeus the All- 
Father and Apollo his son are the chief divinities of the Acheans. 
In these poems likewise descent was reckoned by males amongst 
the Acheans, and the sanctity of the marriage tie holds a fore- 

1 iv, 180. 


most place as, for instance, in the case of Penelope. Aeschylus 
therefore was the Apostle of a new gospel which centred round 
Zeus and Apollo, and their Testament was the Iliad and the 

To Aeschylus the religious conceptions of the Homeric 
poems and their loftier morality came as a revelation. In the 
old world of which the Eumenides were the champions the 
worship of the mere local ancestor, out of which Tragedy sprang, 
was all-pervading. To the imagination of Aeschylus the Achean 
Zeus, the overthrower of the Titans and all the dark powers 
which had brooded over primaeval Athens, was a perfect 
illumination. Instead of narrow local fetish cults of dead 
heroes and heroines came the conception of the All-Father, the 
All-seeing one whose eyes are in every place beholding both 
the evil and the good, and helping them to right that suffer 
wrong, punishing the guilty, yet having mercy and forgiveness 
for the sinner. Henceforward with him although the spirits of 
the dead that dwell in the graves beneath the earth may be 
capable of wreaking dreadful vengeance, yet there was a greater 
power whose force and controlling influence was as wide as the 
firmament itself. 

But the Achean gods had not merely brought into Athens 
a gospel of mercy and forgiveness for the sinner, but along with 
their cult came a social doctrine strange and repulsive to 
the ancient goddesses of the land. When Apollo asks the 
Eumenides why they had not punished Clytemnestra for 
murdering her husband, they reply that as he was of a 
different genos from hers, it was not a case of the shedding 
of kindred blood. Apollo answers, "What, are the sacred 
pledges of Hera Teleia and Zeus of none effect in your eyes, 
nor those of Aphrodite, the giver of the greatest joys to men ? " 

In other words Apollo is simply urging the doctrine of the 
sanctity of marriage as seen amongst the Acheans of Homer. 
On the other hand in Hesiod the marriage bond is unknown 
amongst the gods, but as Aristotle says that men make not 
merely the forms of the gods like unto their own, but also 
their lives, we may infer that with the people amongst whom 
the Theogony was shaped, wedlock was but lax. But as amongst 


the Homeric Acheans the marriage bond is held sacred, we may 
have little doubt that the {epos yd/j.0^, the sacred rite of marriage, 
celebrated between Zeus and Hera year by year at Argos, and 
probably in every community in Greece, was the outcome of the 
religion of Zeus. It is clear from the discussion between the 
Eumenides and Apollo that the marriage tie was not held sacred 
in ancient Athens, but that it was only introduced along with 
the worship of Zeus and Apollo. But as succession through 
males is only possible when strict wedlock has been established, 
the final decision of Athena in the Eumenides in favour of 
closer affinity of the child to the father than to the mother is 
but a natural corollary to the doctrine of the sanctity of marriage. 

Let us now return to the trilogy of which the Supplices 
is held to be the first play. We saw that although the 
conclusion of that drama pointed to the triumph of the ancient 
doctrine of marriage outside the kin, yet in the second play 
the tables were turned, for the sons of Aegyptus vanquished 
the Argives and captured the daughters of Danaus. It probably 
also contained the forced marriage of the maidens with their 
cousins and the murder of all the husbands save Lynceus 
spared by the splendide mendax Hypermnestra. Then came 
the third play, the Danaides, in which the trial of Hypermnestra 
for disobeying her father and sparing her young consort was 
probably the central feature. We know for certain that 
Aphrodite herself came forward as advocate for Hypermnestra 
and triumphantly vindicated her action, on the ground that 
she was completely justified by love towards her young husband. 

We have just seen that Apollo in the Eumenides asks the 
Erinys has she no regard for the sacred marriage rites of Hera 
and Zeus and for Aphrodite. Here in the earlier trilogy 
Aeschylus himself had already justified the breaking down 
of an artificial social system by the all-conquering power of 
love. There is therefore no support left for the assumption 
that Aeschylus was an unbending conservative except in his 
advocacy of the Senate of the Areopagus. But a man must not 
be branded as unprogressive because he does not think that 
every change proposed, no matter what its direction, is whole- 
some and wise. In that great Council composed neither of 
hereditary legislators nor yet of those directly chosen by the 


masses, but of men who had been elected by the people to the 
highest offices of the state, Aeschylus saw a salutary barrier to 
the wild tide of democratic impulse, the very fact which marked 
it out for destruction by Ephialtes and Pericles. But time was 
to show that the instincts of the great dramatist were right. 
If in the Peloponnesian War the democracy, on the proposal of a 
demagogue, could pass a decree for the massacre of the whole 
male population of Mitylene, and on the morrow rescind that 
decree and had to despatch a swift and well-manned galley to 
stay if possible the execution of their dreadful mandate, then 
Aeschylus was surely right in holding that some assembly not 
directly elected by the people was necessary to save it from its 
own folly. But his advocacy of the Areopagus was in vain, and 
according to one tradition it would seem that in consequence 
of the Eumenides the dramatist deemed it prudent to retire to 
Sicily. There some three years later he met death far from that 
Athens for which he and his valiant brothers had fought and 
bled at Marathon, Salamis and Plataea. 

The Prometheus Vinctus. In the Supplices the poet 
dealt with a social revolution, yet the problem which he 
discussed in that play was not merely concerned with the 
structure of Athenian society, but was indissolubly bound up 
with great moral problems. Though indeed he did not face 
the latter in the Supplices, we cannot be sure that he did not 
treat of them in one or other of the remaining plays of the 
trilogy. But be that as it may, as has just been shown, he 
dealt with them fully and fearlessly in the Eumenides, produced 
some thirty years later. In that as in all his other extant 
plays, the Persae excepted, his thoughts are fixed on the origin 
of evil and on the dark and relentless forces which beset the 
life of Man, against which, no matter how the bravest and 
noblest may strive, his efforts are as futile as those of the 
Getae who when it thundered shot their arrows in impotent 
rage towards the heaven, as futile as the resistance offered to 
the demons of the sandstorm by the Libyans, and as futile as 
the rash fury of the Cimbrians who when the Ocean burst 
over their lands " took up their arms against a sea of troubles 
and by opposing " only compassed their own destruction. How 
helpless are even the best of mankind to cope with these 


mysterious and resistless powers, unseen yet ever present, 
Aeschylus has shown us in the famous dramas founded on the 
tales of Thebes and Pelops' line. The Seven against Thebes is 
the last act in the long drama that opens with the folly of 
Laius in contemning the behest of Apollo. It was the third 
play in the trilogy of which the Laius and the Oedipus 
were the first and second. With these three dramas Aeschylus 
proved victorious in B.C. 467 over Polyphradmon, the son of 
Phrynichus, who competed with his Lycurgeia. The Satyric 
drama of the Sphinx completed the tetralogy of Aeschylus, 
and was, as its name implies, almost certainly based upon the 
same legend as its tragic companions. We may infer with high 
probability that in this trilogy Aeschylus traced the steps of 
that curse which, for no cause intelligible to mortal minds, 
dogged the house of Labdacus for three generations. Why 
should the son born of Laius and Jocasta have been the 
predestinated murderer of his father ? Why should that hapless 
child when rescued from death on Cithaeron by the kindly 
shepherd and grown to a noble manhood in the house of 
Polybus have been guided by a stern and mocking fate to the 
spot where part the ways to Delphi and to Daulis ? Why 
should he there have met Laius and his company, and from a 
quarrel, not of his own choosing, have slain unwittingly him who 
begat him ? Why finally should this gallant youth have come 
to Thebes and have saved that harassed city from the ravages 
of the Sphinx only to be rewarded with the hand of his own 
mother ? 

In reply to such questions the. ordinary Greek contented 
himself by saying " Man is but the plaything of the gods." 
But this was an answer far from satisfying a mind like that 
of Aeschylus. 

As the Laius and the Oedipus have not survived, we cannot 
say how the dramatist worked out the story of that Ate which 
wrought havoc in the house of Labdacus. On the other hand 
by the preservation of the Oresteia, the only extant Greek trilogy, 
we are enabled to see from what standpoint the poet viewed 
that series of unmerciful disasters that had dogged the 
Pelopidae from that hour in which the fated golden lamb had 


first appeared in the flock the defiling of his brother's marriage 
bed by Thyestes, the fearful vengeance of the injured Atreus 
by feasting his brother on the flesh of that brother's own 
offspring, the sacrifice of Iphigenia by her father, which 
estranged her-- mother's anguished heart from Agamemnon for 
ever and made her the more ready to become the paramour 
of Aegisthus ; this in turn led her to the murder of her husband 
on his return from Troy to that home to which he brought 
Cassandra as his concubine. This murder must in its turn be 
avenged and to the innocent Orestes descends the hereditas 
damnosa of the family curse. Through no act of his own, but 
under the divine direction of Apollo, he incurs the most awful of 
all pollutions by shedding the blood of the mother that had 
borne him in her womb and suckled him at her breast. 

Yet his doom is not to be that of Alcmaeon in the 
older legend, who slew his mother for compassing his 
father's death, though she had no justification such as that of 
Clytemnestra, and knew no pardon, and found no rest on this 
side the grave. But a new dispensation had dawned for Greece 
and Athens. Apollo in the Eumenides pronounced in the 
name of the Father upon the matricide an absolution full 
and complete. Already thirty years before, Aeschylus in the 
Supplices had described Zeus as the friend of the suppliant 
and as helping them to right that suffer wrong. 

But this is far from being the only aspect of the All- 
Father which he has set forth in his plays. When we turn 
to the Prometheus Vinctus the picture of Zeus there presented 
is altogether different, for he is pourtrayed as a cruel and 
capricious tyrant in his dealings with gods and men alike. 
As the whole scheme of that play is the relation of Zeus to 
the other gods and to mankind, a brief examination of its 
action may enable us to discover why Aeschylus has represented 
the Olympian in such startling contrast to the image of the 
All-Father left us in his earliest and latest extant dramas. 

The date of the play can be fixed within fairly definite 
limits. It is almost certainly later than the eruption of Aetna 
in 01. 75. 2, B.C. 478, to which the poet alludes 1 . The dramatist 

1 375 sqq. 


was in Sicily during the years B.C. 472 68 and probably saw, 
if not Aetna in eruption, the ravages wrought by its lava 
steams. No one places the date of the play later than this 
period. Thucydides when speaking of another great eruption of 
Aetna which occurred in the spring of B.C. 425 and which 
destroyed the territory of the Catanians, says that according 
to report this had taken place fifty years after the last, i.e. the 
one to which Aeschylus refers. According to Thucydides 1 
therefore the date of this eruption would be B.C. 475, but it 
is not unlikely that he is simply speaking in round numbers, 
and that the true date is B.C. 478. There had been an earlier 
eruption of Aetna, which had occurred subsequently to the 
settlement of the Greeks in Sicily, but Thucydides does not tell 
us how long anterior this was to that which occurred in his 
own time. 

The Prometheus Bound (Aeo-/x&)T7;5) is supposed to be the 
second play of a trilogy of which the Prometheus the Fire-bearer 
(Ilup</>o/>o9) was the first, and the Release of Prometheus 
(Auo/zefo?) was the third. The Satyric drama is unknown. 
It cannot have been the Prometheus Pyrcaeus, for that was the 
last of the tetralogy which included the Persae. 

The scene is laid on a bleak cliff in the Caucasus, which 
Aeschylus regarded as being in the Scythian desert. The play 
opens with Prometheus in custody of Kratos and Bia. The 
first lines give us the keynote. Kratos orders Hephaestus, the 
divine smith, to rivet the fetters on Prometheus because such is 
the command of Zeus, and at the same time Hephaestus is re- 
minded that Prometheus had stolen his fire and had bestowed it 
upon mankind. Prometheus is to be punished in order that he 
may abandon his desire to befriend the human race and that 
mortals may learn to bear with patience the sovereign will of 
Zeus. Hephaestus reluctantly obeys and only through fear of the 
Olympian is he willing to shackle a brother god, and justifies this 
reluctance by declaring that kinship and comradeship are strong 
bonds. Kratos answers that one may do anything except become 
king of the gods. The fetters of adamant are now fast fixed, 
and Prometheus utters his famous appeal to all Nature 2 he calls 
1 in, 116. 


upon the divine aether, the swift winged winds, the river founts, 
the multitudinous laughter of the rippling waves, on Earth the 
All-Mother, and on the All-seeing Sun to behold the torments 
which this new ruler of the gods has inflicted upon him. 
Prometheus has prescience of what his fate will be, but not 
a full foreknowledge, as we shall presently see. He knows that 
he is doomed to bondage for ten thousand years, and he must 
bow to 'AvdyKi), "for the might of Necessity is irresistible 1 ." 
He declares that all these torments have come upon him 
because of the gifts that he had bestowed upon men, more 
especially the boon of the stolen fire concealed in a stalk 
of fennel, which had enabled them to develop the arts of 
life. At this moment he hears a rustling through the air, 
and bodes some coming woe. His fear is quickly dispelled, 
for the Chorus of the Daughters of Ocean and Tethys now 
enter. Far away in their sea-caves they had heard the replication 
of the hammer-strokes as Hephaestus riveted the gyves on 
Prometheus. Prometheus adjures them to behold his misery. 
They sing how a new steersman now grasps the helm of Olympus, 
how Zeus is supreme ruling with new laws, and how he is 
bringing to nought the mighty ones of yore. They assure 
Prometheus that he has the pity of all the gods except Zeus, 
who will not relent until either his wrath has been glutted 
or he has been overthrown by craft. Prometheus replies that 
the day shall come when Zeus will sorely need his aid, but 
never will he give him the counsel that may save him until he 
is released from his bonds and Zeus has made requital. The 
nymphs answer that the ways of Zeus are past finding out. 
"Zeus," answers Prometheus, "will yet be brought low and then 
and not till then will Prometheus be ready for reconciliation." 

The Chorus now ask why so grievous a punishment has 
been meted out to him. Prometheus tells his story. Wrath 
had broken out amongst the Titanic gods and strife ensued, 
some wishing to expel Cronus and make Zeus king, others 
taking the part of Cronus and urging that Zeus should never 
reign 2 . Prometheus, warned by his mother Gaia, advised the 
Titans to rely on craft and not on mere brute force, but they 

1 105. 2 205 sqq. 


set his counsel at nought. Then acting on his mother's advice, 
he took the side of Zeus and by his counsels that god consigned 
to Tartarus Cronus, the Ancient of Days, and all who took his 
side. Though Prometheus had done so much for Zeus, the 
latter requited him ill, for like all despots he distrusted his 
friends. Zeus assigned their duties to the various gods, but 
took no account of hapless mortals. It was his design to 
annihilate mankind and to create a new race. Prometheus 
interposed and saved men from the thunderbolts of Zeus and 
planted golden hope in the breasts of mortals. Prometheus 
tells the nymphs that he knew what was before him, when he 
helped mortals, but he did not realise that his punishment 
would be so grievous. It is thus clear that his prescience was 

At this point Oceanus himself comes on the scene, not 
merely as a kinsman, but as a friend. He counsels Prometheus 
to bow to the will of the new ruler of the world, for Zeus even 
though his seat be very far away, may hear his words. Ocean 
himself had hated the whole revolution in heaven, but he 
had yielded to Zeus and he advises Prometheus to do the 
same. Prometheus commends the wisdom of Ocean's ad- 
monitions, but yet he is unmoved. He relates the sufferings 
of two brother Titans, Atlas who far in the West bears upon 
his shoulders the pillar of the sky, and Typhon who by the 
strait of the sea lies crushed beneath the roots of Aetna, whence 
in time to come shall burst forth streams of lava. When his 
advice has been rejected by Prometheus, Oceanus departs riding 
on his griffin. The Chorus then point out to Prometheus that 
Zeus is ruling by laws of his own and manifesting arrogance 
to the gods of the older empire. Already all the earth groans 
aloud and sheds tears sighing for the departed glories of the 
grand old sway of Prometheus and his brother Titans. The 
races of men settled in fair Asia are moved with pity, as are 
the Amazons in the land of Colchis, the Scythians that dwell 
by Lake Maeotis and the martial host of Arabia 1 . 

1 In Trans. Cambridge Philological Soc., vol. n (1881-2), pp. 179-180, 
I defended the reading 'Apafilas of Med. against the various conjectures of 
Hermann CZap/j-arav), of Burges ('A/3dptes), and of Dindorf and Heimsoeth 

R. T. 14 


Prometheus resumes his story 1 . He relates the miserable 
condition of mankind until he gave them intelligence. " Having 
eyes they saw not, and hearing they did not understand." 
They had no houses built with bricks nor knew how to work 
in timber, but like the frail ants they dwelt deep in the sunless 
recesses of caves. They knew no remedy for disease, neither 
salve nor drug nor potion. They had no knowledge of the stars 
nor had they as yet marked out the seasons; they had no 
domestic animals until Prometheus yoked for them the steed, 
obedient to the rein. He too taught them the arts of augury 
and divination by inspection of the entrails, and to offer burnt 
sacrifices. He devised for them numbers, chief of inventions, 
and gave them the art of writing. He instructed them in the 
building of ships and sea-craft, and finally he revealed to men 
the treasures buried in the earth copper, iron, silver and gold. 
In a word all the human arts are due to Prometheus. 

The Chorus suggest that by yielding to Zeus Prometheus 
may yet be free and be not inferior to Zeus himself. Prometheus 
replies that he will yet be delivered, for Art is not so mighty 
as Necessity. The Chorus ask who wields this Necessity. He 
answers, the Three Fates otherwise called the Mindful Erinyes. 
The Chorus ask if Zeus is weaker than these. Prometheus 
replies that he is, for he cannot escape what is intended for 
him. They ask, Why, what is destined for Zeus except to 
reign for ever, for his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom ? 
To this question Prometheus makes no reply. He has his 
secret and by it he will escape from his pains. The Chorus 
then tell Prometheus that his misery is due to his own dis- 
obedience and his assertion of his right of private judgment. 
Gods can get no aid from weak, powerless mortals who are but 

(XaXic/Sos), by citing Xenophon, Cyropaedia, vn, 4, vm, 6, and vn, 5, as well as 
Plaut. Trin., 933. Those passages clearly show that the Arabians meant are 
the people called "A/>a/3es ffKijvlroLi. inhabiting a long strip of country far north of 
Babylon near the upper waters of the Euphrates, and running up to the 
confines of Cappadocia and Armenia. They thus dwelt at no great distance 
from the shore of the Euxine and were easily known to the Greeks who visited 
the coasts of Pontus. Aeschylus was therefore not so ignorant of the geography 
of this region as has been generally supposed. 
1 444 sqq. 


the creatures of a day. By no contrivance can men overstep 
the eternal fitness of things established by Zeus, "this lesson 
I learn from looking upon your affliction, Prometheus. Very 
different is my present lay from that which I sang at your 
nuptials when you wedded Hesione my sister." With this 
closes the first part of the play. It ends with the keynote 
struck in the opening lines. The will of Zeus is supreme. 
All must yield to it, be they gods or men. Prometheus has 
saved mankind from destruction, and has taught them to 
sacrifice to the gods, but " to obey is better than sacrifice and 
to hearken than the fat of rams." 

lo, daughter of Inachus, now enters. She has been 
metamorphosed into a cow by Hera, and though by this time 
the herdsman Argus of the thousand eyes has been slain by 
Hermes, she is still haunted by his spectre as she careers along, 
maddened by the gadfly. She calls upon Zeus to free her from 
her misery. Prometheus recognizes her as the daughter of 
Inachus, who had inflamed the heart of Zeus with love, 
and who had suffered grievously from the jealousy of Hera. 
She asks Prometheus who he is and requests him to re- 
count his misfortunes, but the Ocean nymphs are curious to 
hear her story, and she accordingly recounts to them her 

Once she dwelt a happy maiden in the house of her father 
Inachus at Argos. Then came a time when nightly visitants to her 
virgin bower said to her, " Why live so long in maidenhood, when 
a high espousal is ready for thee, even the bed of Zeus himself? 
He is smitten with love of thee. Go forth to thy father's byres 
at Lerna, that Zeus may find relief from his ardent desire." 
She hearkened not to these monitions, but at last told them 
to her sire. He sent to the oracles of Pytho and Dodona, but 
riddling answers were returned. Finally Loxias, at the behest 
of Zeus, sent an oracle declaring that unless Inachus thrust her 
forth from his house, it would be destroyed by the thunderbolts 
of the Olympian. Sorely against his will her father at last 
turned her forth, for the bridle of Zeus constrained him, un- 
willing though he was. Straightway her form and mind suffered 
a strange change into a cow with horns. Stung by a gadfly she 



rushed distraught towards Lerna, but ever the herdsman Argus 
dogged her steps. Even when he is slain, still maddened by 
the gadfly she careers through land after land. 

It will be noticed that lo is punished not for any unchastity 
on her part, but because she refused to yield to temptation, even 
though the tempter was Zeus. In her story therefore as in that 
of Prometheus unquestioning obedience to the Supreme is 
emphatically preached and enforced. 

When lo's narrative is ended, Prometheus tells her the 
toils and sufferings that still lie before her, and he describes 
her course towards the rising sun to the Scythians, who dwell 
in waggons and use the bow ; she will pass by the Chalybes, 
and reach the Amazons, who in time to come shall settle at 
Themiscyra by the river Thermodon; she will then come to 
the Cimmerian Bosphorus which will take its name from her. 
Prometheus points out the selfish cruelty of Zeus to this 
hapless maiden because he desired her love. He then adds, 
" Is not this ruler of the gods alike tyrannical in all things. 
Because he desired, god as he is, to enjoy this maiden, he hath 
inflicted on her these long wanderings ? Alas, O maiden, a sorry 
suitor hast thou had." Prometheus is now about to continue his 
recital of the future sufferings of lo, when the latter says that 
it is best for her to end her misery once for all by flinging 
herself from the cliff. Prometheus points out that his fate is 
far harder than hers since death is denied to him and he must 
endure until Zeus shall have been expelled from his throne. 
Thereupon lo asks eagerly, "Is it destined for Zeus to be 
deposed some day ? " Prometheus then tells her that Zeus is 
preparing to make a marriage which will cost him his throne, and 
bring him to nought. lo asks if this marriage of Zeus will be with 
a goddess or a mortal woman. He replies that this new spouse will 
bring forth a son more mighty than his father. Zeus will not be 
able to avert his misfortune unless Prometheus be released from 
his bonds. He that can release him against the will of Zeus 
shall be sprung from lo herself and he shall be the thirteenth in 
direct descent from her. Then Prometheus gives her the choice 
of either learning the rest of her own wanderings, or the name 
of her descendant who shall be his redeemer. The Chorus ask 


him to do both. Prometheus consents, and then narrates the 
rest of the wanderings of lo. She is to go south and is to beware 
of the whirlwinds ; then she will pass the surge of the sea, and 
come to the Gorgonian plains of Cisthene, where dwell the three 
daughters of Phorcys, with one eye in common and one tooth 
each, on whom looks neither the sun by day nor the moon by 
night. Hard by dwell their three sisters the Gorgons, feather- 
clad and with snaky locks. She is to beware of the Grypes, 
the pointed sharp-beaked dumb hounds of Zeus, and the one- 
eyed host of the Arimaspians, riders on horseback who dwell by 
the gold-washing stream of the river of Pluto. Finally she will 
come to a swarthy race who are nigh neighbours to the sun, and 
dwell near the river of Ethiopia. She will descend along its 
banks until she reaches a cataract, whence the Nile hurls its 
holy stream. Finally she will pass into the Delta, where it is 
fated for her and her posterity to found a colony. At this point 
Prometheus breaks off his narrative and describes her previous 
journeyings to prove that he is speaking the truth about those 
which still await her. He tells her how that " at Dodona that 
portent passing belief, the talking oaks " had addressed her as 
the destined spouse of Zeus. Then he resumes the narration 
of her future fortunes. At Canopus Zeus will restore her to 
her senses and human form by his divine touch, and will at the 
same time impregnate her with Epaphus. In the fifth generation 
from him, the Danaides shall return to Argos to avoid an 
incestuous union with their cousins. They shall all slay their 
husbands on the marriage night save Hypermnestra, who will 
prefer the name of coward to that of murderess. From her 
shall spring a race of kings of whose stock shall arise a hero 
bold in archery and he shall release Prometheus from his bonds. 
This prophecy had been given to him by his mother Themis or 
Gaia, one of the ancient Titan brood. 

But how he is to be freed he refuses to tell. Doubtless 
the story of this deliverance formed the plot of The Release 
of Prometheus. At this moment a sudden burst of frenzy 
from the sting of the gadfly seizes lo. The Chorus on beholding 
her misery declare " Wise was the man who framed the saw, 
'marry a wife in your own rank.' An artificer must not aspire 


to wed a maid from a family puffed up by wealth nor yet from 
one inflated with pride of birth. May ye never see me becoming 
a paramour of Zeus, nor wedded to one of the heavenly host. 
For I am filled with fear when I behold the virgin lo so 
grievously tormented because she rejected the advances of 
Zeus. Yet marriage with an equal I regard without dread." 
The Chorus add that they see no means of escaping the 
designs of Zeus, should his eye light with favour on a maiden. 
Prometheus here interposes with a declaration that Zeus is 
seeking a marriage which shall cost him his throne and shall 
bring him to nought. Then shall be fulfilled the malison which 
Cronus hurled at him in the hour of his expulsion from his 
immemorial seat. Zeus is arraying against himself one whose 
bolt shall be more mighty than the all-dreaded thunderstone 
and more piercing than the lightning flash. The Chorus there- 
upon remind him that those who pay homage to Adrasteia 
(Necessity) are wise. Prometheus replies that he has already 
known two tyrants cast out of the citadel of heaven and " a 
third," says he, "ye shall yet see deposed." At this moment 
Hermes is sent by Zeus to warn Prometheus against re- 
calcitrancy, but Prometheus bids him go back to his master. 
Hermes threatens him with still worse torments from Zeus. 
The cliff to which he is bound shall be shivered, and its fragments 
will crush him ; an eagle shall day by day gnaw his vitals 
(Fig. 15), and he shall know no respite until some god shall 
undertake to descend into the sunless realms of Hades and 
abide in the gloomy depths of Tartarus. Prometheus there- 
upon rails more fiercely than ever against Zeus : " Let Zeus 
do what he may, Prometheus can never die." 

We are now in a position to form a judgment on the meaning 
of this drama. More than one scholar has pointed out the 
resemblance between its story and that of the Fall as described 
in Genesis and the Redemption of Man by the suffering and the 
death of Christ. It cannot indeed be denied that the play deals 
with the same eternal theme of the origin of Evil as set forth 
in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, that 
theme on which Milton's devils as they sat on the " specular 
mount " 



"reasoned high 
And found no end in wand'ring mazes lost." 


Yet a closer examination of the Prometheus will show that the 
resemblance is merely superficial, though in each case alike 
the keynote is disobedience. In the first place, there is no 
indication in the Greek drama that mankind had fallen from 

FIG. 15. Prometheus tortured by the Eagle. 

a state of primal innocence and perfection. On the contrary 
Aeschylus conceives man as having been originally in much 
the same state as his fellow animals, until Prometheus gave 
him superior intelligence and taught him the use of fire, the 
building of houses and the other arts of life, except the wearing 
of skins or any other form of dress. Thus he regards man from 


the standpoint of the evolutionist rather than from that of the 
Hebrew Scriptures. In the latter Jehovah had created Adam 
and Eve as perfect beings and had set them in a place of unalloyed 
happiness and bliss. From this they are expelled and rendered 
liable to death and " all the ills that flesh is heir to " because 
in yielding to the temptation of the serpent, they had committed 
the arch-sin of disobedience to his distinct command. But in 
the legend of the Prometheus mankind has not been guilty 
of any act of disobedience, for they are but as the insensate 
beasts around and Zeus in the mere wantonness of a despot 
marked them for destruction. In the next place Prometheus is 
not even the son of Zeus, but belongs to an older and lower order 
of gods, whilst Christ on the other hand is the only begotten 
of the Father. Finally Prometheus saved mankind in direct 
opposition to the will of Zeus, whereas Jehovah is represented 
as himself having sent his only son into the world to redeem 
mankind. Christ indeed has to suffer as did Prometheus, but 
the Father, when his will is fulfilled by the passion and death 
of Christ, raised him up to his own right hand in heaven. 
On the other hand Prometheus will have no respite from his 
suffering until some one shall rescue him in direct opposition 
to the will of Zeus. As we have already seen, the one point 
in common is the doctrine that disobedience is the greatest sin 
in the sight of both Jehovah and Zeus. There can be no doubt 
that this is the lesson inculcated by the Prometheus. The 
sufferings of a god and a mortal woman Prometheus and lo 
form the whole plot of the drama. Each of these has suffered 
for doing what to men seems right, but each has been terribly 
punished by the Supreme Ruler for disobedience to his will, 
even when that will is being exercised contrary to all the moral 
notions of man. Prometheus has redeemed mankind from 
misery, and taught them to sacrifice to the gods and other 
practices of religion. But a dreadful penalty is inflicted on 
him to enforce the law that " to obey is better than sacrifice." 
The lesser gods who stand between Zeus and mankind must 
be taught to yield obedience as unquestioning as that demanded 
from mortals. 

For mankind lo is made the exemplar. Hitherto she has 


been regarded by scholars as not differing from the other mortal 
paramours of Zeus, and therefore not unnaturally persecuted 
by the jealous Hera. But the story of lo shows that so far from 
her being frail in virtue and ready to become the concubine of 
Zeus, her virgin chastity recoiled from his embraces, and that it 
was her refusal to yield to lust that brought upon her all her 
afflictions. Like Prometheus she will at last find deliverance, 
but only when in the land of the Nile, Zeus shall have had his 
will of her and begotten Epaphus. 

But just as the utterances of Kratos and Oceanus demon- 
strated that the sin of Prometheus was disobedience, so those of 
the Chorus make it no less clear that lo's sin is the same as 
that of the beneficent Titan who suffered for mankind. 

The Release of Prometheus has unfortunately been lost, yet 
from other works of Aeschylus we can clearly gather that his 
own doctrine respecting the sovereignty of Zeus was diametrically 
opposite to that put into the mouth of the rebel Prometheus. 
As we have seen in the Supplices, it is to Zeus that the helpless 
daughters of Danaus turn for aid, to that Zeus whose eyes 
are in every place, the defender of the helpless and who helpeth 
them to right that suffer wrong; it is to this same Zeus that 
the Chorus of Theban maidens turn in the dire hour when the 
Seven champions are thundering at the gates of their native 
city and when rapine and slavery are staring them in the face. 
In the Eumenides, the sequel to the troubled story of the house 
of Pelops, it is the doctrine of Zeus the All-Father which 
triumphs over that of the relentless All-Mother, that Gaia 
from whom Prometheus sprang. For it is the ordinance of 
Zeus that Apollo maintains against that of Earth in her dark 
and dreadful phase of the implacable Erinys. 

It is not without significance that in the older world 
of Hellas it was to Earth or Themis, the All-Mother, that 
men and women looked for aid, whilst the great Fathers 
Uranus and Cronus are presented as mere savage monsters, gross 
as those that figure in many a myth of modern savages. But 
in the Homeric poems very different is the picture given 
of the lord of Olympus, the Father of gods and men. This 
conception of Zeus had not been evolved in Greek lands, but 

14 5 


had been brought down into Greece by invaders from the north. 
Once introduced into Greece the worship of Zeus gradually 
spread, and though regarded as a father stern and relentless 
to those who broke his laws and set at nought his will, yet 
he was no Uranus or Cronus, for he is full of mercy for all 
mankind and will not that even the matricide, stained with his 
mother's blood, shall perish. For Orestes by his dreadful act 
had obeyed unquestioningly the divine command and shall 
therefore meet with mercy and pardon. 

It is not without significance that more than once in 
reference to the suppression of human sacrifices as at Potniae 
and Phigaleia in Arcadia, an oracle sent by Apollo had ordered 
the substitution of an animal for a human victim. As Apollo 
is represented by Aeschylus as the proclaimer on behalf of his 
father Zeus of the new doctrine of mercy and forgiveness, so 
from his prophetic tripod at Delphi (assigned to him, so said 
the legend, by his sire) messages of mercy were sent from time 
to time into the dark places of Greece, putting an end for ever 
to human sacrifices. As is set forth clearly in the story of the 
dream of Pelopidas (p. 165), it was the grand conception of Zeus 
as the All-Father that was the chief factor in the abolition of 
such horrid rites in Greece. 

Let us now sum up our results. Aeschylus has been 
universally treated as a conservative who clung to all the 
beliefs and institutions of the past. But viewed in the light of 
the evidence set forth in the preceding pages he must rather be 
regarded as one who whilst cleaving fast to all that was best 
such as the Senate of the Areopagus, in things that were old 
was the herald of great and far-reaching reforms, whether 
artistic, social or religious. No blind votary of tradition was 
the man who first saw that living actors were the essential and 
the chorus only ancillary, and thus gave the drama its true 
form once for all, who elevated the chorus itself by ridding it of 
the crude and fantastic elements which it had inherited from 
the mimetic dances of primaeval days ; and who equipped 
Tragedy with a fitting metre and a grand and stately diction 
meet to express the noblest thoughts and ideas of the human 
heart and mind. No less revolutionary was he in his con- 




ception of the boundless range of subjects which could be 
voiced by his new and magnificent instrument, and so he 
became the champion of a nobler and a purer morality, the 
advocate of a more advanced and stable social system, and the 
apostle of a new and loftier religion. In the evolution of 
Tragedy he left for Sophocles nought save to consummate its 
art and for Euripides nought save to inaugurate its decay. 

Uaus Deo, $a* Fibts, Hegutes JWottufs. 


Achaemenean kings, 122 

Acheans, 140 

Achilles, 32 ; his songs, 8 

Actor, single, 60 

Adoption, at Athens, 110, 190 

Adrasteia, 214 

Adrastus, 28, 38, 47, 67 ; his heroum 

at Sicyon, 27, 130 ; tomb of, 38 
Aegis, of Zeus, 24, 90 ; of Athena, 24, 


Aegyptians, The, of Aeschylus, 127 
Aegyptians, 129 
Aegyptus, sons of, 188 
Aeoleiae, 85 
Aepytus, 39 
Aeschylus, 65, 100, 110 ; expounds 

new doctrine of the soul, 126; his 

changes, 57; his Lams, Oedipus, 

Septem, Sphinx, 64 ; his view of 

life, 205 ; precursors of, 63 sqq. ; 

Satyric play, 87 
Aesculapius, 81 
Aethiopia, 213 
Aetna, eruption of, 206 
Agamemnon, his sceptre, 46 ; tomb 

of, 44 

Agariste, 27 
Agesilaus, 165 
Agni, 123 
Agrigentum, feast to Castor and Pollux, 


Agrionia, festival of, 85 
Agylla, 37 
Ajax, 133 
Ajax, Locrian, 36 
Alabaster sarcophagus, 123 
Alalia, sea-fight of, 37 
Alcaeus, 8 
Alcestis, 54, 136, 143 ; somewhat 

comic, 54 
Alcmaeon, 54 
Alea, 39 ; at Tegea, 171 
Alexander, 160, 172 
Alexandrine critics held Rhesus 

genuine, 147 

Almyro, in Phthiotis, play at, 20 
Altar, 38, 39; tomb as, 119 

Althea, 66 

Amalthea, goat, 90 

Amasis, his mummy burnt, 122 

Ameinias, 110 

Amphiaraea, at Oropus, 36 

Amphiaraus, 36 

Amphicleia, oracle at, 25 

Amphictyon, 51 ; brings Dionysus 
into Athens, 25 

Anarrhusis, 77 

Anaxagoras, 56, 136 

Ancestors, worship of, 29, 95, 131 

Andromache, 1 

Andromache, 143, 173 

Animal masks, 99 

Anthesteria, 48 

Antigone, 132, 133 

Antioch, battle of, 84 

Antiochus Epiphanes, 201 

Antipater, 9 

Antony, Mark, 172 

Apaturia, 75, 92 

Aphrodite, 80, 145, 185, 193, 203 

Apollo, 107, 129, 172, 185, 193 ; festi- 
val, 37; a new god at Athens, 200 

Arab actor, 22 

Arabia, 209-10 

Arabs, 209-10 

Arcadia, 164 

Arcadians wear skins, 90 

Archelaus, 54 

Archelaus, 136 

Archilochus, 5 

Archon, 55 

Areopagus, 175 sqq. , 201 

Ares, 10, 25 

Argolis, 26 

Argos, 27; defeat of, 127 

Argus, 211 

Ariadne, 10, 26 

Arimaspians, 213 

Arion, 4-5, 67, 188 ; introduced Satyrs, 

Aristeas, son of Pratinas, 63 

Aristobulus, 123 

Aristodemus, sacrifices his daughter, 



Aristomenes, 163 

Aristophanes, ridicules the Helena, 

Aristotle, on origin of Tragedy, 2 ; his 
account of Tragedy, 7 ; his account 
of rise of Comedy, 7 ; his error 
about origin of Tragedy, 57 ; ignores 
Thespis, 57 ; Polity of Athens, 148 

Aristoxenus, 59 

Arsinoe, 197 

Art, study of, 1 

Artemis, 10, 37, 145; Orthia, 39 

Artemisium, 164 

Aryans, Vedic, 122 

Asiatic dramas, 94 sqq. 

Astyanax, 143, 157 

Athena, 77, 191 ; aegis of, 24, 89-90 ; 
her gorgoneion, 90 ; Alea, 39, 171 ; 
daughter of Poseidon, 201 

Athens, marriage law of, 193 ; cult of 
Dionysus brought into, 25 

Athletes, contests of, 38 

Atlas, 209 

Attic dialect, 3 ; Tragedy, its rise, 69 

Attila, funeral of, 34 sq. 

Augment, verbs without, 7 

Avesta, 122 

Babo, in modern Thracian play, 18 

Baboon, 89 

Baby, in Thracian play, 18, 19 

Babylon, tomb at, 30 

Bacchae, 54, 79 

Bacchants, Thracian girls, 24 

Bacchylides, 148 

Bacon, his famous simile, 148 

Bagpipe, 18 

Baite, of shepherds, 90 

Balagrae, 81 

Banquets of the gods, 107 

Barrow, 129 ; opening in, 30 ; with 

retaining walls, 138 
Basileus, archon, 17 
Bassaricae, name of Bacchants, 24 
Bastard, 18 
Battus, 27 
Bear dance, 25-6 
Bear-skin, 90 

Beasts, wild, dead given to, 123 
Beehives as head-dresses, 17 
Bellerophon, 26 
Bellows, 19 

Bema, 42, 46 ; of three steps, 44 
Bendis, 10 
Bentley, Richard, 65 ; his theory of 

Satyrs, 72 
Bessae, 10, 11 
Beowulf, Lay of, 33 
Bhuts, 154 
Black goat-skin, 75 
Blood kindred, 193 

Boat-racing, 51 

Boy representing young god, 86 

Boeckh, Prof., 127 

Bones, human and animal, at My- 
cenae, 31; of heroes, 126; of Orestes, 

Boule, 183 

Bow, mock, in modern Thracian play, 

Branchidae, 172 

Brasidas, 30 

Brauron, bear dance at, 25-6 

Bretas, 174 

Bride, 22 

Bridegroom, 22 

Bronze Age, 26 

Brugmann on Attic dialect, 3 

Buddha, 95 

Bull, black, sacrifice of, 107 ; con- 
nected with cult of Dionysus, 78 ; 
in Dionysiac ritual, 6 

Burial of Oecist or chief, 27 ; modes 
of, 120; customs of Tartars, Samoy- 
edes, Tibetans, Hyrcanians, Oreitae, 
124; rites, 133 

Buriats, mystery-play amongst, 98 

Burmese burial customs, 124 

Buskin, 112 

Butcher, Mr S. H., 7 

Caere, 37 

Cambyses, 122 

Cannibal Dionysus, 82 

Canopus, 213 

Cantabrians, marriage customs, 196 

Carnival, in Thrace, 15 ; in Thessaly, 

20; at Skyros, 23 
Carthage, urns with bones, 30 
Carthaginians, 37 
Castor, 207 
Cat (Doatsie), mimetic performance, 


Catherine, St, play of, 62 
Cato, 52 
Caucasus, 207 
Cecrops, 191 
Celebrations, periodical, at graves, 

35 sq. 

Celts in Gaul, 123 
Cemeteries, Roman, 30 
Centaurs, of Thessaly, 15 ; on coins 

of Thrace, 15 
Chaeronea, 46 
Cheese, Monday, 16 
Chersonese, Thracian, 140 
Chestnut filly, 165 
Choephori, 48, 119 [sqq., 125 
Choerilus, 53, 63 ; improves masks, 89 
Choral odes, 7 
Chorus, dialect of, 3 ; prominence of, 

128 ; sepulchre, 18 ; tragic, 71 sqq. 



Christ, 216 

Christ, Dr, 61 

Chrysis, 171 

Chytrae, 50 

Gist, 36 

Cleisthenes the lawgiver, 27 

Cleonae, 80 

Clifford, Mr Hugh, 100 

Clytemnestra, 151 

Coffin, Roman, at Colchester, 31 

Comedy, origin of, 7 ; distinct from 
Satyric, 53 ; rise of, 55 

Contest, musical, 44 ; tragic, 49 

Contests of athletes and horses, 38 

Cook, Mr A. B., 42, 46 

Cork, Co., barrow in, 35 

Cothurnus, 112 

Court of Fifty and One, 176 

Courts, Athenian, for bloodshed, 
175 sqq. 

Cousins, marriage of, 190 

Cradle, 18 

Crateuas, 136 

Cremation, 120; at Athens, 126 

Cressae, 54 

Crete, goat-skin garments of, 90 

Croesus, 122 

Cromlech, Co. Cork, 36 

Cult, of Rhesus, 149, 156 

Cuthbert, St, 172 

Cyclic chorus, its origin, 8; not con- 
fined to Dionysus, 9, 50 

Cyclops, 24, 52, 87; of Aristeas, 

Cynaethians, cult of Dionysus, 79 

Cynegirus, 110 

Gyrene, 27 

Cyrus, 122, 123 

Cyzicus, 78 

Daedalus, 26 
Danaides, 213 

Danaids, 184; their plea against mar- 
riage with their cousins, 193-4 
Danaus, daughters of, 129, 187 
Dance, of goats, 90 ; costume, ancient, 

Dancers, all early dramatists so termed, 

Dances, 65 ; mimetic, 10, 25 ; tragic, at 

Sicyon, 28 

Dancing-ground at Cnossus, 26 
Dardanians, 11 
Darius, 123; ghost of, 89, 153; his 

tomb, 114, 123 
Dasaretii, 13 
Daughters, 196 
Dawkins, Mr R. M., description of 

Thracian carnival, 16 sqq., 23, 50 
Dead, worship of, 29, 48, 50, 89; 

soldier, 111 

Delphi, 27, 37, 38, 51, 107 ; attacked 

by Phlegyans, 25 
Delphinium, court of, 175, 200 
Demeter, 157; of Hermione, 8 
Demosthenes, 190 
Descent through women, 12, 192 
Deuadae, 14 

Dialect, old Attic, Doric, Ionic, 3 
Dionysia, Great, 9, 48, 59, 79 
Dionysiac play in modern Thrace, 

16 sqq. 
Dionysus, 129, 130, 185 ; worship of, 

10 sqq. ; oracle of, 11 ; his worship 

in Greece, 24 sqq. ; introduced into 

Athens and Naxos, 25, 51 ; into 

Sicyon, 28 ; Dendrites, 44, 48, 49 ; 

festivals, 48 ; D. Melanaegis brought 

into Athens, 51; an unclean cult, 

51; "not a word about D.", 54; 

D. Eleuthereus, 5 ; taurine shape 

of, 78 ; human sacrifice to, 82 ; 

priest of, 85 
Dithyramb, 4 sqq.; "ox-driving," 5; 

prizes, 6 ; earliest, 38 
Dodona, 213 
Dorians, 2; expelled from Sicyon, 26; 

not allowed in Athenian temple, 4 ; 

their claim to tragedy, 8; rejected, 5) 
Doric dialect, in chorus, 2; in dialogue, 


Dorpeia, 76 
Dowry, given by sisters to brothers, 


Dowth, 138 
Draco, 176 
Drama, Doric word, 2-3; Satyric, 

50 sqq. 
Dramas, Asiatic, 94 ; competition with 

single, 132 
Dramatic contests, 50; performances, 

of Veddas, 102 
Dress, ancient Thracian, 20 
Druids, 123 
Drunkenness, 13 
Dryopians, at Hermione, 8 

Eagle, 214 

Edonians, 149 

Egypt, marriage of brothers and sisters 

in, 197 
Electra, 119 
Eleusis, 143 ; birthplace of Aeschylus, 

110; dramas at, 93; mysteries of, 

11; mystery-plays at, 61 
Eleuther, daughter of, 75 
Eleutherae, 25, 51 
Eleutberia, 107 
Elis, women of, 78 
Endogamy, 193 
Ephebi, 79 
Ephesus, sanctuary at, 172 



Ephetae, 176 

Ephialtes, 112 

Epic, Irish, 7 ; origin of the, 8 ; 

poets, 7 

Epics not in Doric dialect, 8 
Epidauria, 81 
Epidaurus, theatre, 42 
Epigenes, 58, 68, 77; goat, Dionysus 

and, 78 

Epiphany carnival in Thessaly, 20 
Erechtheum, 85 
Erechtheus, 39; house of, 200 
Erinys, 83, 113, 193 
Etruscans, 37 
Euboea, 90 
Eumenides, The, 187 ; descent through 

women, 193 ; scene of second act, 

173 sqq. 
Eumolpus, 11 

Euphorion, father of Aeschylus, 110 
Euphronius, 9 
Eupolis, 40 
Euripides, his life, 135 sqq.; his plays 

used as text-books, 147 ; popularity, 

148 ; second in contest, 54 
Everyman, 141 
Exogamy, 193, 196 

Fall, the, compared to story of Pro- 
metheus, 214 

Farnell, Dr L. B., his European goat- 
god, 86 ; theory of Attic tragedy, 73 

Faustus, Doctor, 169 

Fawn-god, 20 

Fawn-skin, 20; dress of indigenous 
Thracians, 24 ; in modern Thracian 
play, 17; of Bacchants, 24 

Female characters, 65 

Filly, chestnut, 165 

Fire, god of Persians, 122; stolen by 
Prometheus, 207 

Flute, 64 ; use of, 9 

Flute-player, 4-5 

Footprints, 119 

Fox-god, 20 

Fox-skin, 20; dress of indigenous 
Thracians, 24 ; in Thracian play, 
17 ; of Bacchants, 24 

Frank, the, 24 

Frazer, Prof. J. G., 30, 78 

Freyr, 29 

Funeral, parody of Christian, 19 ; 
soldier's, 32 

Funnel aperture into tomb, 30 

Fustinella, 22 

Gadfly, 211 

Geoffrey, 62 

Gerontes, 183 

Getae, 10, 12 

Ghost in Eumenides, 151 ; of Achilles, 

in Hecuba, 151 ; of Polydorus, in 

Hecuba, 151 ; theory, 153 
Ghosts, 150 sqq. ; appeasing of, 156 ; 

like to be remembered, 36, 37 ; 

masks for, 89 ; mediaeval and 

modern, theory of, 154 ; of Darius, 

150 ; use of, limitations in, 152 
Gipsies in modern Thracian play, 18 
Glaucus, 185 
Goat, tragos, as prize, 6 
Goat and Dionysus, 79; bronze, 80; 

chorus, 91 ; sacrifice of, 91 
Goat-eating, 81 
Goat-god, 20 
Goat-singer, 71 
Goat-skin, 20 ; dresses, 83 ; dresses of 

Libyan women, 90; head-dress, 16; 

in modern Thracian play, 17; black, 

god of, 74 
Goat- skins, 74 ; dress of Satyrs, 87-8 ; 

men dressed in, in Thessaly, 20 ; 

most common dress in Greece, 24; 

worn by slaves, 87; by shepherds, 


Goat-song, 71, 90 
Goat- stags, 100, 113 
Goats, 72 ; sacrificed, 81 
Gods, banquets of, 107 ; of contests, 

Gold, helm, 33; in Beowulf s grave, 

34; ring, 33 
Gorgoneion, 89-90 
Gorgons, 213 
Gortyn, laws, 197 sqq. 
Goths, 34 

Gowns, academic and legal, 91 
Griffin, 209, 213 
Grypes, 213 

Hadrian finishes Olympieum, 201 

Haghios, Gheorghios, 16 

Haigh, Mr, 42 

Hair, fair, 81; lock of, 119 

Hamlet, ghost in, 36 

Harrison, Miss J. E., 50 

Hawes, C. H., 99 

Headlam, Dr Walter, 184 

Hecuba, 140, 161 ; ghost in, 151 

He-goat, 71, 80 

Heiress, Athenian, 190, 194 

Helena, 137 

Hellespont, 152 

Hells, twenty-one Hindu, 126 

Helm, 33 

Hephaestus, 77, 207 

Hera, 81 

Hera Teleia, 193 

Heracleia, 36 

Heracleidae, 157 

Heracles, 15; his apotheosis, 38 

Heraclides Ponticus, 59, 69 



Herald, 129; Egyptian, 189 

Hermeni, 13 

Hermes, 119, 129, 214 

Hermes, Aepytus, 39 

Hermione, 8, 51 ; boat-races, 51 

Hero, promoted to godhead, 38 ; 
sacrifice to, 38; worship of, 27 

Heroes, hones of, 126 ; grave of, 107 ; 
propitiated by imitation of their 
exploits, 107 ; shrines of local, 39 

Heroum, at Sicyon, of Heracles, 39 

Hillock, of the Fair, Co. Cork, 35 

Hindu hells, 126 

Hindus, ghost theory of, 154 

Hindustan, indigenous dramas, 94 

Hippasus, 85 

Hippolytus, festival of, at Troezen, 

Hippolytus, of Euripides, 145 sqq. ; 
Kaluptomenos, 145 ; Stephanephoros, 

Homeric doctrine of the dead, 124, 125 

Hoplites, 134 

Horse, 165 ; less lustful than man, 72 ; 
origin and influence of, thorough- 
bred, 32; sacrificed, 123; slain, 32 

Horse-Cocks, 100, 112 

Horses, contests of, 38 

Human victims, 82, 157 sqq. ; sacri- 
fice, 164, 167 

Huns, burial customs, 134 

Hunter, stage, 196 

Huyshe, trans, of Beowulf, 33 

Hypermnestra, 188, 203 

Hypodicus, 9 

Hyporchema, 64 

Iambic metre, 57 

Icelandic Sagas, 7 

Ildico, 34 

Inferno, doctrine of, 126 

Inheritance, law of, 190; in Lycia, 

197; Crete, 198 sqq. 
Inhumation, 120 
Invocation of the dead, 120 
lo, 189, 211 sqq. 
lolaea, 36 

lolaus, festival at his tomb, 36, 157 
lonians, 76 

Ionic dialect, 3, 4 ; Hylacists, 56 
Iphigenia at Aulis, 158 
Iphigenia in Tauris, 144-57 
Irish Epics, 7 
Isaeus, 190 
Isthmian games, 51 
Ithome, 163 

Jason, wears panther-skin, 90 
Jehovah, 216 
Jevons, Mr F. B., 198 
Jordanes, 34 

Jousts at funeral, 32 
Justin, 191 

Kalogheroi, in Thrace, 16 

Kande Yaka, 103 

Katsivela in modern Thracian play, 


Katsiveloi, 18 sq. 
Katsivelos, 19 
Kid, Dionysus a, 79 
Kin, next of, 190 
Kindred, blood, 193 
King, good, brings prosperity, 29 
Knight, Mr E. F., 96 
Kommos, 141 ; in Septem, 142 
Koritsia, in Thracian play, 17 
Koureotis, 77 
Kruse, Prof., 127 
Kuriei, 195 

Labdacidae, sorrows of, 185 

Ladak, Lamas of, 96 

Lamas, play of, 95 

Lament for dead Kalogheros, 19 

Laments, 142 

Lamprus, 131 

Lasus, 8-9 

Law, Attic, of inheritance, 190, 195 

Lawson, Mr J. C., 23 

Lead, white, for disguising face, 89 

Leake, Col., 12 

Lear, King, 159 

Leather fringes, 90 

Lenaea, 48, 49 

Leonidas, 165 

Leotychides, 171 

Leto, 37 

Leuctra, battle of, 164; maids of, 

Limon, 37 

Linus, 11 

Loretto, Lady of, 76 

Lourdes, 76 

Lycaean, Mount, 164 

Lycaon, 164 

Lycia, marriage law of, 197 sqq. 

Lycians, kinship of, 192 ; wear goat- 
skins, 90 

Lycurgeia of Polyphradmon, 64, 185, 

Lycurgus, 10, 52, 185 

Lynceus, 203 

Lyrical poetry, its origin, 7-8 

Lysimachus, 186 

Macaria, sacrifice of, 257 
Macedonia, Southern, play in, 22 
Macedonian law, 197 
Macedonians, 13 
Madonna, 76 
Magi, 120, 123, 124 



Mail, coat of, 33 

Malay plays, 100 

Male succession, transition to, 193 

Males, succession through, 203 

Manger of Christ, 63 

Margites, 7, 57 

Marlowe, 112 

Maron, the priest, 24 

Maroneia, 24 

Marriage, 191 ; of half-brothers and 

half-sisters, 190 ; sanctity of, 203 ; 

with cousins, 188 ; with sister, 197 
Mask, goat-skin, 16 ; Thracian play, 

17; skin, 24 
Masks, 64, 95 ; at Mycenae, 26 ; of 

linen, 60 ; introduced by Thespis, 

60 ; Satyric, 88 ; Silenus, 88 ; 

Satyr, 88 ; Dionysus, 89 ; painted, 


Masqueraders, 16 ; in Skyros, 24 
Matricide, 193 
McLennan, 192 

Mediaeval drama, its origin, 62 
Megacles, 27 
Megalopolis, theatre, 42 
Megara, 173 

Melanaegis, 51, 74, 75, 76, 82, 83 
Melanippus, 28 
Melanthus, 74, 75, 83 
Meleager, 66 
Melodrama, invented by Enripides, 


Memnon of Simonides, 69 
Menander, 148 

Messengers, speeches of in Tragedy, 7 
Messenia, 164 

Miletus, Capture of, 65, 187 
Mimetic dances, 25 
Minyas, daughters of, 85 
Miracle-plays, 62 
Miracles, 94 
Mithridates, 172 
Mitylene, fall of, 203 
Mongolia, mystery-play of, 95 
Months, termination of names of 

Attic, 49 

Moses, grave of, 135 
Mother-right, 192 

Mothers, children named after, 191-2 
Mound, funeral, 33 
Miiller, C. O., 127 
Miiller, Max, a solar myth, 83 
Mummy, 122 
Munychia, 81 
Musaeus, oracles of, 8 
Muse, the, mother of Rhesus, 149 
Musical contests, 9 
Mycenae, monuments of, 26 ; tombs at, 

30 ; shaft graves, 31 ; ring of stones 

at, 138 
Mysians, 11 

Mysteries, Christian, 94 ; of Eleusis, 
11, 61 ; mediaeval, 62 sq. ; Orphic, 

Mystery-plays, Tibet, Mongolia, 95 

Myth, nature, 84 

Necessity, 210 
Neoptolemus, 143 
New Grange, 138 
Nicolaus Damascenus, 192 
Nitocris, 30 

Oaks, talking, 213 

Ober-Ammergau, play at, 63 

Oceanus, 209 

Odin, cult of, 29 

Odysseus, 24, 54 ; goes to the Land of 

the Dead, 125 

Oecist, buried in market-place, 27 
Oedipus Coloneus, 133 
Oedipus, grave of, 135 
Olive-tree, 191 
Olympieum, 200 
Onomacritus, 8 
Oracle of Dionysus, 25 
Orchestra, 43 
Orchomenus, 74, 85 
Oresteia, 119, 127, 186, 205 
Orestes, 119 ; his bones, 27, 126 ; trial 

of, 173 sqq. 
Orgiastic cults, 15 
Orion, 30 
Orpheus, 11, 82 
Orphic mysteries, 154 
Orthagoras, 26 
Orthia, 39; at Sparta, 172 
Ossa, play on, 22 
Ox-driving dithyramb, 79 
Oxford, earl of, 84 

Palaestae of Pratinas, 64 

Palladium, court of, 175 

Pallas and his sons, 145 

Pangaean, Mount, 10 

Panopeus in Phocis, 25 

Panther-skin, 90 

Pantomime, obscene, in modern 

Thracian play, 19; obscene, in 

Thessaly, 22 
Parabasis, 47 

Parnassus, Phlegyans of, 25 
Parsis, 122 
Parthenon, 201 
Pasargadae, 123 
Passion of Christ, 62 
Passion Play at Ober-Ammergau, 63 
Patrocles, 32 
Pausanias, 171 

Pegasus of Eleutherae, 25, 51 
Peiraeus, 42 
Peisistratus, 49, 59, 200 



Pelanos, 40, 156 

Pelasgian tribes, 8; towns, 26 

Peliades, 136 

Pelion, festival on, 23 

Pellene theatre, 42, 107 

Pelopidas, his dream, 165 

Pelops, tomb of, 31 

Pentheus, 54, 185 ; of Aeschylus, 185 ; 

of Thespis, 89 
Periander, 5 
Pericles, 132, 201 
Perrot and Chipiez, 123 
Persae, 65, 187 
Persepolis, 115, 123 
Persian youths sacrificed, 82, 164 
Persians, mode of burial, 120 
Pestilence, 80 
Phaedo, 153 
Phaedra, 145 

Phalanthus, 30; his body, 126 
Phallus, 51 ; in modern Thracian play, 


Pherecydes, 165 
Plriloctetes, 132 
Philosopher, mind of, 154 
Philosophy, 154 
Phlegyans, at Panopeus, 25 ; at 

Thebes, 25 
Phlius, 80 

Phoceans slain, 37-8 
Phocis, 90 

Phocus, his tomb, 30 
Phoenissae, 14 ; of Euripides, 143 ; 

of Phrynichus, 65 
Phorcys, 213 
Phratriae, 76 
Phratrium, 77 
Phreatto, court of, 175 
Phreattys, 176 
Phrygians, 6, 11 
Phrynichus, 64, 114-5, 132, 187; 

ignored by Aristotle, 57 ; names of 

his plays, 65 
Phthiotis, 20 
Pig-skins, 90 
Pile, funeral, 33 
Pindar, 131 ; dithyramb, 6 ; his Odes, 

8 ; his Threnoi, 144 ; the new frag- 
ments, 148 

Plataea, festival at, 107 
Platanos, in Phthiotis, play at, 22 
Platforms, collapse of, 63 
Plato, Phaedo of, ghost-theory, 153 
Plays, of Phrynichus, their names, 65 ; 

mystery, Tibet, Mongolia, 95 ; of 

Euripides, 147; of Veddas, 102; 

Malay, 100 

Ploughing, ceremonial, 20 
Ploughshare, 19 
Poet, leader of chorus, 56 
Policeman, 18 

Pollux, 107 

Polydorus, ghost of, 155 

Polymnestor, 152 

Polyphemus, 24 

Polyphradmon, 74 ; his tetralogy 

Lycurgeia, 64, 66 
Polyxena, a slave, 168 ; sacrifice of, 

Poseidon, 25, 145 ; father of Athena, 

129, 191, 201 
Potniae, 80 
Pratinas, 53, 54, 63, 88, 131, 110 ; 

first composed Satyric play, 63 
Priam, 152, 161 
Priestess of Artemis, 37 
Prize for tragic competition, 59 ; in 

tragic contests, 71 
Prizes for dithyramb, 6 ; in games, 


Prodicus, teacher of Euripides, 136 
Prometheus Vinctus, 200, 204 
Prometheus the Firebearer, 207 ; Re- 
lease of, 207, 213 
Prometheus, meaning of the play, 


Prometheus Pyrcaeus, 207 
Property, 196 
Protesilaus, 160 

Proteus, king, 138 ; tomb of, 46 
Prytaneum, 175 
Psoloeis, 74, 85 
Ptolemies, 197 
Ptolemy Philadelphus, 197 
Pylades, 119 
Pylus, 140 

Pyre, funeral, description of, 33 
Pyrrhus, 84 
Pythium, 200 

Eaces, foot, 36 

Eain-charm, 22 

Bama, 95 

Bamayana, the, 194 

Becognition of Orestes and Electra, 


Release of Prometheus, 213 
Belies, use of, arms from Troy, 


Bevolution, social, 204 
Bhapsodists at Sicyon, 27 
Bhesus given divine honours by his 

mother, 149 
Rhexus, the, of Euripides, 147-50 ; 

genuineness of, 150 
Bidgeway, Early Age of Greece, 3, 4 
Bing of gold, 33 
Bings in the mound, 34 
Bobes, 91 
Boman coffin, at Colchester, 31 ; 

church, dramatic representation, 




Sacrifice, animal, 169 ; human, 95, 
157 sqq., 197, 218 

Sacrifices to Adrastus, 28 

Sagas, Icelandic, 7 

Saints, worship of, 29 

Salamis, battle of, 110, 126 

Sanctuary, 140, 169 sqq.; tomb as, 138 

Sanctuaries, 130 

Sappho, 8 

Sarcophagus, alabaster, 123 

Satrae, 10, 12 

Satyric drama, 2, 50, 55 ; " Tragedy 
at play," 52, 87 ; the only true 
Dionysiac element in Tragedy, 53 ; 
first composed by Pratinas, 73 ; play 
of Aeschylus, 87 ; masks perhaps 
invented by Pratinas, 88 

Satyrs, 12, 86 ; speaking in metre, 5 ; 
not goats in early art, 72 ; as goats 
in late art, 72 ; with horse-tails, etc., 
72 ; why wear goat-skins, 87 ; wear- 
ing goat-skins, 88 

Sauadae, 14 

Scedasus, daughters of, 165 

Scephrus, 37, 39, 118 

Sceptre of Agamemnon, 46 ; sacrifice 
offered to, 46 

Schliemann, Dr, 138 ; explores tomb 
of Achilles, 160 

Scyphos, Theban, 45 

Seligmann, Dr, 102 

Seligmann, Mrs, 102 

Septem c. Thebas, 205 

Sepulchre of Christ, 63 

Sesarethia, 13 

Seville, coffin at, 31 

Shaft-graves at Mycenae, 31 

Shakespeare, 118; Henry V, 114 

Shamanistic, 95 

She-goat, 80 

Sheep, 77; sacrificed, 123 

Shepherds, baite of, 90 ; wear goat- 
skins and sheep-skins, 87 

Sicyon, 26, 91 ; dramatic performances 
at, 56 ; Epigenes of, 58 

Sicyonians, founders of Tragedy, 58 

Sileni, 12 sqq. ; graves of, 13 ; in 
Greek literature, 15 ; not in goat 
form, 15 

Silenus, 52 

Simonides, 9, 69 ; of Ceos, his 
dithyramb on Memnon, 6 

Skeat, Mr W. W., 100, 107 

Skene, 47 

Skins of beasts, 90 

Skyros, carnival, 23 

Smith, 19 

Snakes, fringes of, 90 

Socrates, 134, 136 

Solon, 61-2 ; angry with Thespis, 58 ; 
his ashes, 126 

Songs in Epics, 7 

Sophocles adds third actor and scene- 
painting, 57 ; his life, 131 

Soul of Achilles, 153 

Souls denied funeral rites, 154 

Spaniards, 192 

Spartan king not permitted to enter 
temple of Athena, 4 

Sphinx, Satyric drama, 205 

St Albans, abbot of, 62 ; play at, 62 

Statues, 189 

Stesichorus, his view of Helen, 137 

Strava, funeral feast, 35 

Succession to property, 192 

Sun, 80 

Suppliants, The, of Aeschylus, 127 ; 
of Euripides, 143 

Supplices, The, of Aeschylus, 187, 
194 ; real meaning of, 187 

Swedes, 29 ; burial customs, 124 

Table, 42, 47 ; accessory to altars, 46 ; 

used as stage, 40 
Tables, sacrificial, 42 
Tarentum, 30, 126 
Tate, Nahum, 159 
Tattooing, 12 
Tauriform monster, sent by Poseidon, 


Tegea, 37, 126 ; its sanctuary, 171 
Tegeatans, 155 
Telephus, 54 
Tetralogies, 132 
Tetralogy, Alcestis in, 54 
Thalamopoei of Aeschylus, 188 
Thales, 56 
Thamyris, 11 

Theatre, first at Athens, 63 
Theatres, ancient, excavated, 42 
Theban, scyphos, 45 ; women, beauty 

of, 84 

Themis, or Gaia, 213 
Themistocles, 65, 82, 164 
Theoclymeuus, 138 
Theocritus, 166 
Theoxenia, 107 
Theron, 107 
Theseus, 134, 143, 145 
Thespis, 2, 41, 54, 56, 68, 77, 110; 

wins crown, 49 ; his life, 58 ; his 

grand step, 58, 60 ; names of his 

plays, 56 ; uses lees of wine, 60 ; 

did not write Satyric dramas, 88 ; 

disguise, 89 ; his masks, 89 
Thessaly, carnival in, 20 
Thetis, 10 

Thrace, modern Dionysiac play in, 16 
Thracian ox-cart,10; modern Dionysiac 

play, fawn-skin, fox-skin, goat-skin, 

17; ancient dress of skins, 20; girls, 




Thracians, red-haired, 10 ; dark- 
haired, 10 ; of Pangaeum, 11 ; their 
coins, 11 ; dress of, 20 
Threnos, 1, 142 
Thymele, 2, 38, 39 sqq., 42, 46, 129, 


Thymoetes, 75 
Tibet, mystery-plays of, 95 
Tiger, Red Devil, 95 
Tiryns, sacrificial pit, 31 
Tomb, of Agamemnon, 44, 119 ; of 
Proteus, 44 ; revered as an altar, 
119; of Cyrus, 123; of Antigone, 
132; with curb-stone and railing, 
138; of Achilles, 140, 160; of Darius, 
161 ; as altar, 170 

Tombs, incorporated into worship of 
gods, 48 ; of heroes in Tragedy, 48 ; 
in Greek tragedies, 110 sqq. ; of 
Aepytus, Phocus, Oenomaus and 
Areithous, 138; sacrifices at, 156 

Totemism, 26 

Tourneur, Cyril, 111-2 

Tragedy, its supposed Dorian origin, 
2 ; evolution of, 42 ; religious rite, 
55; early history of, 56-7; writers 
of, 57 ; rise of in Greece, 67 ; origin 
of, 185 ; expansion of, 187 sqq. ; trage- 
dies, competition in, 49 ; extant, 
very pure, 52 ; see Tragoedia 

Tragic, dances, 28, 56 ; representing 
sorrows of heroes, 29; chorus, 
47; contests, 49, 59; origin of 
name, 70 

Tragikos, 91 

Tragobolos, Dionysus, 80 

Tragoedia, origin of name, 70 

Treasures, hoard of, 33 

Trial for homicide, 176 sqq. 

Tripod, as prize, 36 

Troades, 143, 157 

Trochaic, tetrameter, 57; tetrameters 
invented by Phrynichus, 65 

Troezen, memorials of Hippolytus and 
Phaedra, 145 

Tronis, barrow at, 30 

Trophonia at Lebadea, 36 

Trophonius, 36 

Tsountas, Prof., 138 

Tucker, Prof., 120, 127, 188 

Tydeus, 28 

Tyndaridae, 107 

Typhon, 209 

Tyrtaeus, 8 

Varro, 191 

Vases, 44 

Vedda drama, 102-7 

Veddas of Ceylon, their dramas, 102 

Vegetables, offerings of, 50 

Verbs, unaugmented in Epic and 

Tragedy, 7 
Vere, Aubrey de, 84 
Verrall, Dr, 120, 183 
Vestments, ecclesiastical, 91 
Victims, substituture, 81 
Virgin, sacrifice of, 165 
Vishnu, incarnation of, 95 
Viza, in Thrace, its carnival play, 

Vizianos, M., describes Thracian 

carnival play, 16 
Vollgraff, Dr, 73 

Wace, Mr A. J. B., on Thessalian 

carnival play, 20, 50 
Waddell, Col., 95 
Waegmundings, 33 
Waggon used in Tragedy and Comedy, 


Walters, Mr H. B., 46 
War, border, 84 
Water, 191 
Wedlock, 190 

Westminster, sanctuary of, 172 
Whale's Ness, 33 
Wife of Beowulf, 34 
Wigs, 91 

Wine of Thrace, 24 
Wolf, Lycaon turned into a, 164 
Wolf-skin, 90 
Women, descent througfi, 12, 190; 

lose votes, 191 
Worship, of ancestors, 29 ; of saints, 

Wraith, 137 

Xanthippus, his grave, 30 
Xanthus, 74, 75, 83 
Xoana, 129 

Yaku invited to partake of food, 107 

Zeus, 128, 189 ; at Athens, 200 ; his 
aegis, 96 ; the Homeric, 217 ; Am- 
phiaraus, Trophonius, Agamemnon, 
39; Phratrius, 77 

Zoilus, 85 

Zoroaster, 122 


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